Park Heights - A New Renaissance
Just a few blocks from last spring’s unrest in Baltimore sits the community of Renaissance Gardens, a senior housing residence in the Baltimore neighborhood of Park Heights. This semester, an interdisciplinary team of students, guided by Associate Professor Alex Chen, worked with the non-profit group Park Heights Renaissance to help residents re-envision their community. The team’s primary focus was to create a sense of place and identity for residents of Park Heights by bridging the vital assets already in place—including faith-based resources and gardens—with the touchstones of a vibrant community: safety, walkability and green space. The student’s plan integrated an “urban trail” of sorts; a quarter-mile network of complete streets that connect gardens to homes, businesses and churches, while integrating simple safety measures that offer big returns, like streetlights, “greening buffers” and speed bumps. Overlapping statistical data on vacancies, owner and rental-occupied lots, the team was also able to offer some preliminary ideas for unsalvageable vacant housing, furthering community desires for safety and connection. The project was commissioned by Enterprise Community Partners, a nationwide community organization that seeks to end housing insecurity in the United States.