Flaghouse Courts Revitalization
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Mixed-Income Community
Flaghouse Courts Revitalization, Baltimore, Maryland
This infill project in Baltimore transforms a socially segregated high-rise public housing complex and its environs into a diverse mixed-income and mixed-use neighborhood. The project typifies HUD’s HOPE VI-funded revitalizations, in which special emphasis is placed on design in the renovation of derelict public housing projects. Flaghouse Courts is made up of true homes with excellent design and community structure.
Exemplary not only in its treatment of housing issues, Flaghouse Courts effectively re-knits the fabric of the city by extending the street grid system of the adjacent area through the site. In doing so, it revives a fractured community by reconnecting residents of adjacent neighborhoods. Juror Robert Campbell particularly liked “the way it incorporated existing streets and buildings into a new pattern."
Funded in 1998 with a combination of public and private funds, the site plan was developed through a series of charrettes that included a broad-based citizenry: public housing residents, local community leaders, a team of private developers, city officials, local merchants, and multidisciplinary professionals. As the project evolves, the community will continue to be involved in the decision-making process, ensuring the creation of a project responsive to its residents and sensitive to its surroundings.
The committees involved chose to demolish a 10-acre socially segregated public housing tower complex that stigmatized the residents in an area where row houses were the norm. The new neighborhood consists of 338 new residential units including unsubsidized row houses, small condominium buildings, unsubsidized rental units in small apartment buildings, and affordable for-sale housing. Public housing residents will be invited to return and occupy the new units, and a few homes will be offered to public housing residents on a lease-to-own basis. Each block will contain a diverse mix of income groups, integrating residents throughout. All buildings will have similar facade designs to avoid identification of the income level of residents. A wide variety of facade details will be provided to avoid the appearance of mass-produced housing.
A primary community concern was safety. The immediate neighborhood on the historic main street was full of vacant lots and collapsing buildings. These unsupervised spaces, as well as those of the superblock housing complex, added to crime problems in the area. In the new plan, row houses will line the streets and face onto parks to create a system of well supervised defensible space. Individual units will have fenced rear yards and individual parking areas served by alleys.
“Flaghouse Courts exemplifies the renewal of the street and its positioning as a central public space,” says juror Anne Vernez-Moudon.
In addition to the physical reconnection of the site with the surrounding neighborhood, a major thoroughfare has been enriched with new buildings and uses. The project will extend beyond the existing public housing site with purchased vacant land and buildings. Redevelopment will feature small-scale retail on the ground floor and residential units above. A new diagonal street is positioned to bring people straight to a museum, the third oldest synagogue in the country, and the commercial district that will serve as a retail heart of the area. This commerce should serve as a cornerstone for fostering an integrated community.
Project: Flaghouse Courts Revitalization, Baltimore, Maryland
Site: An urban area adjacent to residences, businesses, a historic main street, the Little Italy district, and the downtown. The 14.5 acre site featured a public housing tower in a neighborhood comprised of row houses. The tower was isolated not only by its design but also by the lack of through streets into the public housing site.
Program: A mixed-use neighborhood that complements the area’s traditional building types. The network of streets will be extended through the redeveloped site. New housing will accommodate multiple income levels, and concurrent revitalization efforts will be focused around selected buildings and vacant lots in the neighborhood.
Architect/ Planner: Torti Gallas & Partners • CHK
Sponsor: Housing Authority of Baltimore City
Developers: Integral Properties LLC, Mid-City Urban LLC, and H.J. Russell New Urban Development LLC
Engineer: KCI Technologies
Engineer: STV Incorporated
Transect Zone(s): T2 reserve, T3 sub-urban, T4 general.
Project or Plan's Scale: City
Land area (in acres): 10
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Project team designers: Torti Gallas & Partners
Project team developers: Integral Properties LLC, Mid City Urban LLC, H.J. Russell New Urban Development LLC
Previous site status:
Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: 1998 -