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North Charles Village 

Planned Unit Development

Beginning in August 2022, the North Charles Village PUD Design Review Committee composed of volunteer design and planning professionals in an advisory role, worked to update the text of the original 1996 PUD ordinance text to conform with the 2017 Transform Baltimore Zoning Code, in addition to updating the Design Review Guidelines to current standard practices for planning, design, materials and construction. The Committee also updated the original Zoning Code Uses to conform with the 2017 Transform Code. Beginning in January 2023, the Planning Department has reviewed and edited the proposed text for CC Bill #23-0434 to agree with Transform Baltimore and recommended that including the Design Review Guidelines in the ordinance is no longer appropriate or readily adjustable for future updates.

The long-anticipated rezoning of the eastside 3300 block St. Paul Street, including Tamber’s Restaurant and the JHU Bradford Apartments to C-1 has proceeded with full support of the property owners for CC Bill #23-0432. This block is a natural extension of the NCV PUD District which is surrounded by Union Memorial parking garages and substantial JHU mixed use development across the street. The Committee envisions small retail shops in the existing two-story rowhouses.

Throughout 2023, the NCV PUD Design Review Committee facilitated community meetings for the site planning and design of the 3121 St. Paul Street Development (Streets Market retail/JHU student apartments) and reached broad consensus to support construction of a building with height up to 80 feet to allow a high-functioning development. (CC Bill #23-0433).

The Charles Village Civic Association supports these three City Council Ordinances to significantly enhance the quality of life for central north Baltimore, and consequently, greatly increase the City’s property tax base.

Village Lofts in 3200 block of St. Paul (pictured left)

DESIGN REVIEW GUIDELINES
proposed for NCV PUD City Council Ordinance introduction

Read Full Document

BACKGROUND By Ordinance 96-35, December 1996, the Mayor and City Council approved the North Charles Village Planned Unit Development affecting 37 multiple properties and which remains the single example in Baltimore City of a PUD introduced by a partnership of Greater Homewood Community Corporation and Johns Hopkins University to include a community-based design review process. In 2003, City Council legislation expanded the original 1996 boundaries north of 33rd Street and adopted new Design Standards & Guidelines based on the professional experience of the Design Review Committee. The Committee is well-respected for working collaboratively with owners, managers, and design professionals on each renovation or new construction project as it progresses from concept to completion. 2016 adoption of Article 32 Zoning Code, Transform Baltimore. Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are intended to encourage the best possible design of building forms and site planning for tracts of land controlled by a PUD, per § 13-101. This control over an entire development, rather than project by project regulation, will produce a well-designed development resulting in a beneficial effect upon the health, security, general welfare, and morals of the City and the neighboring areas. Property owners and business managers within the district require approval by the Design Review Committee before obtaining appropriate City Building Permits. The Design Review Committee offers ongoing constructive advice to reach attractive and reasonable design solutions to maintain the standards envisioned in these Guidelines. At the inception of a project, please contact the Committee Chair to ensure the most effective and efficient approval process.

North Charles Village PUD Design Review Committee Contact Information

Committee Chair, Sandy Sparks, 410-890-5844 or srsparks@verizon.net

Baltimore City Planning Department, 410-396-5932 or 410-396-PLAN

Additional Background

NCV Planned Unit Development Renews for Next 25 Years

In 1996, residents and businesses in the Greater Charles Village area followed a year-long intensive community planning process that I managed with the Charles Village Community Benefits District (CVCBD). One of the major recommendations in this Master Plan recognized that a revitalized Village Center, 3100−3200 blocks St. Paul Street was essential to accommodate the demand for a variety of convenient retail services in Greater Charles Village. Johns Hopkins University was expanding across Charles Street. During the early 1990s, Greater Homewood Community Corporation’s Neighbor Relations Committee worked with nearby neighborhoods and JHU students to create a more vibrant Charles Village. Their efforts led to formation of the North Charles Village Planned Unit Development (PUD). See PUD District map. By City Council Ordinance in 1996, the Mayor and City Council approved the PUD affecting 37 multiple properties in the District. Introduced by a partnership of Greater Homewood Community Corporation and Johns Hopkins University, the North Charles Village PUD remains the single example in Baltimore City of a community-based PUD with established design review guidelines. In 2003, JHU and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse amended the Development Plan to add University properties to the NCV PUD District boundaries and include the planned redevelopment of the 3200 block of St. Paul Street— the east side as Village Lofts. Extending redevelopment to the 3300 block of St. Paul Street, with the JHU Barnes & Noble and student residences development and a decade later the 9 W. 33rd Street development with first-floor retail on the west side of 3200 St. Paul Street fulfilled the Master Plan’s promise for a vibrant Village Center. In Summer 2021, the Charles Village Land Use Committee and PUD Committee Design Review Committee began working with the City Planning Department to update the NCV PUD to align land use provisions with the Transform Baltimore Zoning Code, adopted in 2018, which rendered the language in the original PUD Ordinance seriously outdated and no longer useful. The new list of permitted and prohibited uses will be presented at community meetings. The original Design Review Guidelines also became increasingly irrelevant with no current design elements, such as channel and blade signs and LED lighting. Over the last 25 years, the NCV PUD Design Review Committee has routinely reviewed the wide range of major new development and facade signage projects in order to write letters of approval for City permits as required. Councilperson Odette Ramos is preparing to sponsor the City Council Ordinance to officially update the community-based NCV PUD ordinance. Over the next months on behalf of CVCA, Delegate Ramos will introduce and hold hearings on the updated NCV PUD legislation to City Council. CVCA will hold community information meetings through the legislative process. The new PUD Ordinance will also include the expansion of the retail area into the east side of the 3300 block of St. Paul Street. For 25 years, Tamber’s Restaurant has served as the anchor at the corner of 34th Street. By rezoning the east side to C-1, the owner of Tamber’s envisions renovating the 1930s row homes into small local retail and service uses similar to the porch-front homes in the 800 block of West 36th Street in Hampden. This would extend the Village Center but not impact the adjacent Union Memorial Hospital parking garages and nearby Hopkins apartment buildings. At the suggestion of Councilwoman Ramos, the PUD amendment would not permit a future building taller than the new zoning allows, or 60 feet.

—Al Barry, AB Associates. Al, Deputy City Planning Director from 1987− 95, lived on E. 26th Street from 1972−95 and served as CVCA President from 1984− 86.

NCV PUD Design Review Guidelines Benefit Entire Area

By City Council Ordinance 25 years ago, the North Charles Village Planned Unit Development (NCV PUD) was formed to address and afford participation by representatives of neighborhoods that lie to the east of Johns Hopkins University— recognizing inevitable growth of the University. The PUD centers on 33rd Street between N. Charles Street and St. Paul Street, the 3100 and 3200 Blocks of St. Paul Street, in addition to selected properties along N. Charles Street.

By the 1990s, the few commercial establishments on St. Paul Street were in need of re-investment and retail services were limited. The unit block of 33rd Street had declining small apartment buildings (fraternity houses), while the 3200 block of St. Paul featured rowhouses exhibiting various stages of dilapidation that degraded the entire area. The Charles Village retail district was in serious need of redevelopment.

The 1996 NCV PUD encourages the best possible design of building forms and site planning for tracts of land under a unitary plan of development. Unitary control over an entire development, rather than lot-by-lot regulation produces a well-designed development that will have a beneficial effect upon the health, security and the general welfare of the residents, businesses, institutions and visitors of the entire area.

To that end, a 1996 City Council Ordinance created the NCV PUD Design Review Committee. Property owners and business managers within the District require approval from the Committee for façade changes and signage, alterations and construction. CVCA designates the committee chair. The Committee includes a volunteer architect, PUD commercial property owner, PUD resident and a planner from the Baltimore City Planning Department. Additionally, the Committee includes representatives from the Charles Village Community Benefits District, the North Charles Village Business Association, the Abell Improvement Association, Greenway Community Association, Oakenshawe Improvement Association, Johns Hopkins University and Union Memorial Hospital. The review process has evolved over these years. In 1996, Jerry Gordon, Owner of Eddie’s Market, 3117 St. Paul Street, became the first business to follow the design review and permit process that allowed café tables and chairs throughout the PUD area. The Niwana Restaurant on 33rd Street demonstrated the successful collaboration in 1998 of owner Jin Wook Kang with the Committee in the design and reuse of existing features for a new façade along 33rd Street. The Hopkins Square retail development, owned by Johns Hopkins University and managed by the Cordish Company, began with the opening in 1997 of Xando’s Café & Coffee Bar at the corner of N. Charles and 31st Street. On behalf of each tenant, the developer presented a series of detailed architectural drawings for awnings and signage to the NCV PUD Committee for review and a letter of approval for City Building Permits. The Design Review Committee continued to follow the same process for each new retail tenant and the addition of the Hopkins Square signage. The dynamics of the area led to some establishments being replaced. A focus of the Design Committee has been signage— usually the most important element in each retail façade. Eliminating illuminated box signs led to developing an organized but flexible sign program that permits individual character to business signs, yet avoids visual cacophony on the street. Today’s LED lighting and sign technology offer more design solutions than 25 years ago. One principle that has been emphasized as the review process has evolved is early involvement with the Design Committee. At the inception of a project, property owners, developers and business managers are encouraged to contact the Design Review Committee Chair, Sandy Sparks, 410.980.5844, to ensure the most effective and efficient approval process. Typically, a preliminary discussion will lead to a scheduled presentation where property owners and developers submit their conceptual and preliminary designs to the Design Review Committee to begin a dialogue. An early presentation of the plans will often help the proposal proceed smoothly through the approval process without major and costly last-minute changes. Preliminary presentations may expedite but do not change the formal approval process. Throughout, the Committee works with the applicant to achieve an approvable project. Depending on the project a subsequent meeting may be scheduled where a final submission is presented for approval. At that time the Committee Chair writes an approval letter, which is used to obtain the necessary permits. In collaboration with the City Planning Department, the PUD Design Review Committee is updating and clarifying the Design Review Guidelines for inclusion in the renewal of the NCV PUD Ordinance. City Council Representative Odette Ramos is sponsoring legislation in the months ahead. CVCA will host special community information meetings to present this major community-based initiative, renewing the NCV PUD for the next 25 years. In addition, expansion of the NCV PUD north of 33rd Street will incorporate the houses and businesses along the east side of St. Paul Street up to 34th Street. The daylight row houses that line St. Paul Street may be redeveloped with individual commercial enterprises: possibly emulating the vibrant Avenue in Hampden. This will further increase the variety of retail opportunities to better serve the people who live, work and study in Charles Village and beyond.

—Matthew Mosca, Historic Architectural Color Consultant. Matthew, former member Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, has served as Oakenshawe Representative on the NCV PUD Design Review Committee since 1996.

Articles originally appeared in The Charles Villager Summer 2022

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