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Urban Business Center Announces Plan to Rebuild Neighborhood

A Blue Ribbon team has been selected to design and implement a new $100 million redevelopment effort called the Gateway to West Baltimore.

Tue October 06, 2015 - Northeast Edition
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The Urban Business Center, 1200 Baltimore St., announced a Blue Ribbon team to design and implement a new $100 million redevelopment effort called the Gateway to West Baltimore.

On Sept. 11, after several weeks of discussions with the Urban Business Center Board and West Baltimore community advisors, the Blue Ribbon team was selected. The team includes Dean Dovolis, founder and principal with DJR Architects of Minneapolis; Adrian Harpool, CEO of Adrian Harpool & Associates of Baltimore; Cynthia Arnold, founder and board member of One Earth United-Philadelphia and Leon Wilson of Boston and a leader in financial management.

“We are committed to transform the city’s most blighted neighborhoods into diverse, exciting, mixed-use communities, which requires community involvement. We applaud the Urban Business Center’s commitment to prioritize affordable housing, thriving retail and commercial development,” said Dovolis, a Blue Ribbon team leader.

“We bring a strong commitment to the residents in West Baltimore coupled with extensive knowledge and experience in urban renewal and financing to help rebuild a gateway to West Baltimore.”

“We have created a comprehensive plan that is responsive, fair and responsible to the community,” said Stacy Smith, managing partner of the Urban Business Center. “Within the next 30 days we will present our model, which is rooted and grounded in the resiliency of the community and commitment of the Urban Business Center leadership; combined with the Blue Ribbon team’s expertise and recommendations to the city, foundations, investors, bankers, businesses and union leaders to garner funding, support and involvement beyond the Blue Ribbon Committee.

“After almost two years of planning, outreach, community meetings, town halls and discussions with key private and public stakeholders and the opening of the first community-based business incubator in the city of Baltimore and state of Maryland, we are ready to move forward. We have created a community wealth building model that can be replicated throughout blighted communities to stimulate and sustain economic growth.

“The Gateway to West Baltimore’s Urban Business District model is a business incubator and industry development model that promotes community economic stability and growth via workforce development, skills training, entrepreneurship, industry development and community co-op and investment,” she said.

“As a catalyst for the next era of Baltimore City’s community economic empowerment, The Urban Business Center’s ultimate goal is the full development of its Urban Business District in the Gateway to West Baltimore redevelopment effort. This commercial business district will offer goods and services at a competitive rate while celebrating and furthering the education, skill development, culture and financial legacy of the urban communities of southwest and west Baltimore in an easily accessible, culturally-competent way.

“For this project, we selected a different and dynamic team — it’s a team that combines technical experts, architectural experts, local experts as well as community members, inclusive of youth to ensure the Gateway to West Baltimore is the best choice and right fit for the redevelopment of West Baltimore beginning with Baltimore Street,” said Smith.

“Community engagement, including young people will continue to play a vital role throughout the building of this gateway and will prayerfully be used to address blight not only in other communities in Baltimore City such as Sandtown, a community that has had its blight reviewed nationally due to the tragic death of Freddie Gray. And moreover, help other blighted communities nationally as well.

“Community engagement, inclusive of young and old, supported by the expertise of a Blue Ribbon team is the key and we will continue to play a vital role throughout the building of the Gateway to West Baltimore.”

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