As Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood, Jonestown is rich with history and culture. Its proximity to the harbor and inland waterways enabled Jonestown to grow into a thriving center for American industry. Early residents included European immigrants and freed slaves from the South—all bringing with them their unique cultural and religious heritages. Following a public housing era that negatively defined Jonestown until the early 2000s, the neighborhood is seeing renewed energy and investment through several redevelopment projects and the growth of adjacent neighborhoods. Through a series of recommendations focusing on programs and operations, community identity/branding, development, and the public realm enhancements, the Vision Plan aims to give direction to the community and create a future for Jonestown that is as compelling as its storied past.
Between March 2014 and November 2015 the team guided stakeholders in a collaborative four phase effort that brought together more than 44 stakeholders/groups, 100+ individuals, elected officials, and public agencies. Through public meetings, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and an intensive three-day planning charrette, the community explored the challenges and opportunities of the Jonestown neighborhood. The energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of Jonestown’s stakeholders throughout the vision and planning process fueled thoughtful dialogue, creative thinking, and pragmatic problem solving. The social capital and positive momentum of the effort has set the stage and positioned the community to realize a catalytic vision for Jonestown, both in the near and long-term.
The Jonestown neighborhood has no shortage of attractions to draw visitors. Anchor institutions, including the Jewish Museum of Maryland and Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, as well as the Shot Tower, historic places of worship, and renowned eateries all create a draw to the neighborhood. A challenge lies in the lack of cohesion across the district amid the vacant blocks and weathered streetscapes. A vital component of the Vision Plan was to leverage the synergy between these assets to support the vision of a cohesive neighborhood that celebrates its diverse culture. This is accomplished, in part, through key public realm enhancements and strategic development opportunities that create stronger physical linkages between destinations, provide active uses along the street, and support equitable development for businesses and residents alike.