Building Consultants, Inc.

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The New Baltimore City
Nan Harvey, A.I.A.

The possibility exists that Baltimore's credit ratings will drop. The Sun reported it Tuesday, March 24, 1998. The geeks from Moody's, as well as Standard & Poor's Corp., say they have a "negative outlook" about Baltimore. The kids from the Street say that the city has become more and more reliant on the state for help with its budget.

Pardon me? This is a problem? At the same time Portland and Denver create more elastic boundaries for themselves to accommodate the realities of the new expanded city center, Baltimore is maybe downgraded for the exact same thing? Baltimore is catching the wave and getting in tune with the realities that the city is the center of a region, the Mid-Atlantic region. Because the state is small geographically, the region then encompasses the state.

Denver, at the edge of the sprawling prairie, has shown that by consolidating the five counties surrounding the central city and levying a 1% sales tax on those five counties, the urban area can easily raise money for stupendous civil projects: the Michael Graves addition to the main library, the white-water rafting park through the center of downtown, the new stadium (okay, so we have two of those...) Denver has the advantage over Baltimore that there isn't another show in town if it's not Denver. Baltimore does have competition with Washington, D.C.

I don't think the city is becoming weaker but instead the state government is getting wise to the realities of our more global economy. And the local governments, including Baltimore City, are losing that ego trip that they've had for too long and realized that we are worth much more banding together for the common good of the region than fighting with each other and dividing the spoils. How can we talk about the Internet in one sentence and the World Wide Web and then quibble about the distance of a block in the next sentence?

The most realistic city plans allow for an elastic boundary that encompasses part of the"suburbs". We don't have to adhere to the medieval walled city concept where our boundaries were physical and made of stone and brick. The city has decentralized its core and the 'burbs have absorbed a lot of the energy that was once localized downtown - localized downtown when the phones worked most of the time but not always so it was a good idea to at least be walking distance. Forget faxes and e-mail and talking in real time with your buddy from graduate school in Seattle... we can connect to the other cities like Cleveland that Moody has B-rated, by fiber optic cables.

So, now who are these guys from Moody's who make the assessment of the city's rating and what planet have they been on?

Nan Harvey attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA (BA in Art), and graduate school at Va. Tech. in architecture. She moved to Washington, DC then Baltimore, where she renovated a rowhouse and then an old farmhouse while working for various architectural firms in Baltimore.

Nan started Building Consultants, Inc. construction monitoring and condition survey services in April 1990, and added environmental services in 2000. As a dedicated volunteer for Habitat for Humanity International, Nan has built houses for deserving families in Nepal and Brazil.

She can be reached at BCI at (410) 715-2277 or nan@eConstructionServices.com. BCI provides expert project review for real estate transactions.

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