Picture Belair Road 20 years from now. Will there be eloquent landscaping framing several small, owner-operated boutiques and businesses? Will you be able to tell the difference between Baltimore City and Baltimore County?

Doretha Hilton, of the 4200 block of Moravia Road thinks Belair Road should be crime and trash free. Department of Transportation Chief Valorie LaCour thinks Belair Road should be a family- and business-oriented greenway with lots of trees and wider sidewalks.

And that’s just a sample of the visions being expressed as revitalization of Belair Road moves to planning stage.

According to local officials, they want to make the corridor more pedestrian friendly, which will mean wider sidewalks, more benches and more of a scenic route.

“The idea is to litigate conflict and create an identity with the Belair Road community,” LaCour told the {AFRO}. “This is an opportunity to get comments from the community before we enter into the next design phrase.”

Thanks to a $3 million in federal and state money now available, merchants and residents in the northeast Baltimore corridor recently learned that a proposed four-mile revamp may get underway soon.

The plans were the subject of a lively meeting Oct. 21 at St. Anthony of Padua Most Precious Blood Church, when local planning officials outlined the shape of the revamp that is to begin at Erdman Avenue and end at Fleetwood Avenue.

LaCour said the plan is to improve pedestrian safety, improve transit connectivity, improve environmental quality and improve streetscape aesthetics.

Councilman Brandon Scott of District 2, said, change for the currently dismal corridor “is needed, especially when it comes to trying to attract new businesses to the area.”

The current conditions of Belair Rd. consist of narrow roads, two traffic lanes in each direction and streets badly in need of repair. LaCour said there aren’t many wide sidewalks, places for people to sit for mass transit or landscaping.

There are several closed car dealerships and closed businesses.

Some residents disagree. Rickey Hilton, 56, who lives in the 4200 block of Moravia Rd., said he’s worried.

“I’m afraid the money won’t fix the problems we see every day,” Hilton told the {AFRO}.

Hilton and his wife Doretha have lived in the Moravia community for years and are tired of putting up with crime.

“I hope the remodel will eliminate the crime in the area,” she said.

“This is just one portion of a great revitalization plan,” Scott said. “This will improve the infrastructure and make it more walkable, make it more friendly, make it more environmentally friendly, but also help spruce up the area to make it look better.”

Andrea Buie-Branam, lives in the Cedmont community, said she thinks this project is a step in the right direction for the neighborhood.

“”I’m looking forward to it and am optimistic,” Branam said. “Hopefully this will bring more family friendly businesses to the area.”

Scott told the {AFRO} neighbors are clamoring for improvements and Belair Road is his top priority.

According to officials the new renovations will encourage business owners to see Belair Road as an opportunity to bring their business to the city.

LaCour said with the investments people make into the city, it would stimulate economic development.

“An investment in transportation infrastructure may get the attention of the development community,” she said.

The design phase is to take nine months and construction is set to begin in late 2015, planning officials said.


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer