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City Council To Vote On Creating Two New Downtown Historic Districts At Former Superblock Site

The Baltimore Planning Commission voted unanimously to create two new historic districts within the greater downtown area.

The Five and Dime Historic District and the Howard Street Historic District both include properties that would have been demolished in the aborted Superblock development plan, the Baltimore Sun reports. Among those historic properties is Read's drugstore, the site of one of the first sit-ins of the civil rights movement.

The Baltimore City Council still must vote to approve the creation of the West Baltimore districts, which are each populated by a large number of city-owned lots and vacant buildings. Even for the privately owned buildings, city officials are confident that a historic designation would signal to developers that the city will support development and growth in those districts with investment and infrastructure, the Sun reports.

Baltimore Development Corp. Executive Vice President Kimberly Clark told the Sun that the districts represent the "hole in the doughnut" between the central business district, the well-regarded Mount Vernon neighborhood and the University of Maryland — Baltimore campus.

The Five and Dime district would be bound by Fayette Street to the south, Howard Street to the west, Lexington and Clay streets to the north, and Liberty Street to the east. The Howard Street district would be bound by Mulberry, State and Franklin streets and Park Avenue.

Baltimore Development Corp., which manages development of city-owned properties, has already seen some success in lots it has sold with the creation of performance spaces, apartments and the Mount Vernon Marketplace. Historic designations have assisted in growth for neighborhoods such as the Station North Arts District, and the Planning Commission believes Five and Dime and Howard Street could enjoy similar benefits.

If the historic designations are awarded, the organization would work with the Commission for Historic Preservation to ensure that new developments fit the architecture of the areas and to help connect projects with history, to build with the authenticity that many apartment hunters crave today.