Century-old Baltimore Business Gets Facelift
The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Storefront Improvement Program is focused on ensuring the physical health of Baltimore’s commercial districts. For one project in southwest Baltimore, this means improving the façade of an institution aimed at ensuring the health and well-being of Baltimore’s residents. Westside Pharmacy and Wellness Center at 2021 West Pratt Street is an important institution in the underserved Carrollton Ridge neighborhood, serving as both a pharmacy and as a small store for various health and wellness needs. The 97-year-old building stands at the heart of a corridor with numerous stores and restaurants, and saw significant damage during the civil unrest that hit the city in 2015.
Thanks to the conceptual architectural renderings provided by Tomato Design Studio, LLC and the Civic Works YouthBuild Initiative, the storefront at the corner of West Pratt and Harmison Streets received a major facelift, improving the curb appeal along one of the busy roads leading into downtown Baltimore. The flaking paint and deteriorated awning on the front of the building were replaced, allowing the business to stand out better on the block. Lighting was also added to help illuminate the entryway. The concrete step at the entrance to the pharmacy was replaced and a grab bar was added to help elderly and disabled patrons access the store. The security grate that protects the store entrance when it is closed was repainted to help the business beautify the neighborhood even when the pharmacy isn’t open.
For the repair and maintenance work required for this project, the state partnered with Civic Works, a Baltimore-based nonprofit focused on strengthening Baltimore’s communities through education, skills development, and community service. Through their YouthBuild program, Civic Works provides opportunities to Baltimore City youth aged 17 to 24 to learn skills in the construction field by working on projects like the one at Westside Pharmacy and Wellness Center. The program also provides assistance for its participants to earn a GED or high school diploma, as well as help with job placement.
All architectural design services are coordinated by the Neighborhood Design Center in collaboration with American Institute of Architects Baltimore Chapter and Baltimore Heritage.
This is one of several projects being undertaken citywide as part of the Maryland Business Recovery Storefront Improvement Program, including past, current, and upcoming projects in the Waverly, Upton, Highlandtown and Hollins Market neighborhoods of Baltimore. The program, funded by Governor Larry Hogan and his approval of a $650,000 allocation from the Rainy Day Fund, assists businesses throughout Baltimore with grants to update their façades, which improve the small business climate as well as the overall aesthetics of the city. The grants are generally $10,000, with an option to extend investment even further with a one-to-one match of state funds to those contributed by property owners or another funding source.