May Compass - eNews from Baltimore City Planning

Compass Logo over Image of Clipper Mill Building
The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

May 2013

A Message from the Director…

In this edition of the Compass, I am pleased to present an overview of the dramatic transformation -and success story - of the Jones Falls Valley.

In 1802, a gristmill (flour mill)—the first mill of Hampden-Woodberry—opened and began attracting mill hands from as far away as Kentucky and West Virginia. Over the years, a mill district developed along the Jones Falls valley, followed by the railroad and the highway we now know as "the JFX".

The mill district in recent years has become one of Baltimore's revitalization success stories, with the adaptive reuse of the mills and related developments, establishing new chapter in the area's history.

I am very proud of the role the Department of Planning has played in the redevelopment of the Jones Falls valley, and I hope you find some inspiration in this story as well.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director


Inner Harbor 2.0 Logo

Introducing Inner Harbor 2.0

Inner Harbor 2.0 is an initiative of the Waterfront Partnership, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), and the City of Baltimore to update the Harbor with more parks, green space and free amenities for residents and visitors. 

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is an incredible asset for the City and the State, but the Harbor belongs to all of us.  So we need to hear from you!

What do you think can be improved at the Harbor? What kinds of attractions or amenities would draw you to the Harbor more often?

Please tell us what you think by taking the Inner Harbor 2.0 Survey, or by commenting regularly on the Inner Harbor 2.0 blog. The outcome of this new planning effort depends on your active participation, so we thank you in advance for your feedback!

Image of Inner Harbor as seen from Federal Hill

Below: TOD - a mix of transportation options at Clipper Mill.

Photo of Bus, Train and Car at Clipper Mill

Below: The Jones Falls as it passes under the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83).

Picture of the Jones Falls below the JFX



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TransForming the Jones Falls Valley

The historic mills of Baltimore’s Jones Falls Valley are enjoying a renaissance. From Mount Washington Mill at the county line to Mount Vernon Mill in lower Hampden, a series of mixed-use redevelopment projects has transformed these largely under-utilized but historically significant properties.  They are now attractive hubs for high-quality housing, office space and restaurants, returning the mill complexes to their historic position as economic hubs for the community.

Map of Historic Jones Falls Mills
Photo of external architectural detail at Clipper Mill

The Department of Planning has been active in reviewing each of these developments, and will continue to do so as these projects grow and evolve.  For example, the Planning Commission has reviewed and approved rezoning legislation, master plans, and specific designs for these sites; our Land Use and Urban Design Division has facilitated flood plain, design and site plan reviews; and CHAP has assisted with historic reviews and individual applications for historic tax credits.

Adaptive Reuse of the Historic Mills of the Jones Valley

Here is a brief look at some recently completed mill projects:

Mill No. 1

Photo of Mill #1 Development in Progress

Nearing completion this summer, Mill No. 1 is an adaptive re-use of the former Mount Vernon cotton duck mill complex located at 3000 Falls Road in Hampden by David Tufaro and TerraNova Ventures LLC.

This development – which makes use of properties on both sides of the river – contains a mix of 42,000 square feet of office space, 2 restaurants and 92 rental apartments. As of publication, the Evergreen Health cooperative has signed on as the first major commercial tenant while nearly a third of the apartments are leased.

The Mill No. 1 project received $2,417,360 in Maryland State Historic Tax Credits, which assisted in the restoration of the buildings signature architectural details namely, its distinctive windows and doors.

Union Mill

Union Mill, the historic ‘Druid’ cotton duck mill located at 1500 Union Ave in Hampden, was renovated by Seawall Development Corporation in 2010.

Photo of Union Mill Project

This innovative, LEED Silver project features 56 units of fully-leased housing set aside for teachers in Baltimore City schools and 25,000 square feet of non-profit office space. Meanwhile, its restaurant space, occupied by Artifact Coffee, is thriving as a destination for handcrafted coffee and fresh, farm-to-table meals.

Like Mill No. 1, the Union Mill project also received $2,920,000 in state historic preservation tax credits, and received one of the first ever Maryland Sustainable Growth Awards in February 2013.

Image of Coradetti Glass Blowing Studio in Clipper Mill

Clipper Mill

In 2003, Clipper Mill Redevelopment Company, a subsidiary of Streuver Brothers, undertook the process of redeveloping the substantially vacant and underutilized former Pool and Hunt foundry complex in Woodberry.  In its place a new mixed-use project was planned that would comprise light industrial, offices, residences (including artisan live-work space), and a small amount of retail, all within walking distance of the Woodberry Light Rail Station.

Photo of Clipper Mill Condo Building

Now ten years later, the Clipper Mill complex is finally nearing completion, and is home to numerous artisans, professional offices, non-profits and other businesses, including the popular farm-to-table restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen. It also boasts a mix of new apartments, townhouses, and contemporary single-family houses that overlook Druid Hill Park.

The formerly vacant mill site, includes a total of 169 housing units made up of 36 rental apartments, 61 one and two bedroom condo units, 34 rowhomes, and (when completed) 38 semi-detached homes.  The Foundry building includes a total of 51,000 sq feet of artist, retail, and restaurant space and the Poole & Hunt Building houses 39,000 sq feet of office space. 

Image of Meadow Mill Building

Meanwhile, the Jones Falls Valley continues to enjoy the  success of other, earlier mill redevelopment projects, including Mt. Washington Mill, the Mill Center (immediately northwest of Mill No. 1), and Meadow Mill. 

The story of the Jones Falls Valley is not over yet...

Under TransForm Baltimore most of these project areas, despite having their own Planned Unit Developments, have been recommended for the new industrial mixed-use (I-MU) zoning category under The historic mill buildings and related structures truly exemplify the potential for adaptive re-use of older industrial buildings into a mix of residential, commercial, artisan and light industrial uses.

Others have been proposed for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zoning to take advantage of their proximity to transit.

As we look into the future of the Jones Falls Valley, we can see the potential for redevelopment of the remaining mill properties, such as the White Hall project at the Komar building, historically known as the original Clipper Mill building.

Click here  for a recent Baltimore Sun Article on the Jones Falls Valley and the near completion of the Mill No. 1 project.

Image of Meadow Mill from Baltimore Sun Article

What do the Compass and the NY Times have in common?

An Interest in Historic Mills!

The NY Times reported recently about another example of the adaptive reuse of an old mill, this one in North Carolina.  For the article click here.