Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
BALTIMORE – Renovations of the Mt. Washington Village business area moved closer to reality when the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee of the Baltimore City Council voted Thursday to push the Urban Renewal Plan to its final step.
Committee Chairman John Bullock, councilman of District 9, said the renewal plan would be reviewed before a final vote on the project is taken.
Under the Urban Renewal Plan, small business owners would be allowed to own property in the historic shopping center. Some businesses will be spruced up with paint and other renovations. Officials said the business area also would generate more income for Mt. Washington Village.
Mt. Washington, located in Northwest Baltimore but adjacent to Baltimore County, has a rich history. In the 1850s and 1860s, the area consisted mostly of summer homes and was considered the city’s first suburb. The origins of the area are traced to 1854 when George Gelbach and Elias Heiner purchased 314 acres of land near the mill village of Washingtonville.
Today, Mt. Washington still has a rural feel because the town has a population of fewer than 4,000 people. The town even hosts an annual fall block party every year in October.
Al Barry, a consultant for the Commission for Architectural and Historical Preservation, said the renovation plan has been in the works since May after community residents collected enough signatures on a petition calling for business improvements in Mt. Washington Village.
Barry said there are several unknowns: the costs of the urban renewal project and whose tax dollars will pay for the project. However, he said the entire Mt. Washington Village community will benefit and the project will eventually pay for itself.