Monday, February 19, 2007
Pen Lucy and Wilson Park: The Market Will Turn These Two Around
Pen Lucy and Wilson Park are two neighborhoods in Northern Baltimore that are greatly distressed. They have aged much worse and at a greater rate than their neighbors on all sides.
To the south of the two neighborhoods is Waverly a diverse working class community that has rebounded since the demolition of memorial stadium as sort of a second Hampden. To the east is Northwood. First there's Original Northwood, a housing stock built by the Roland Park Company that has appreciated much higher than its any of its neighbors. Than there's New Northwood it differs only because it was built by less prominent builders than the Roland Park Company. To the north is Govans like Waverly it experienced some decline but has since turned itself around due to its relative affordability and its landmarks.They include the revitalized Belvedere Square and the Senator a theater that the public saved by raising funds of over $100,000 for the owner to pay off his mortgage. Finally to the west is Guilford. Guilford is one of few exclusive enclaves in the city that has remained wealthy and untouched by the problems associated with Urban Decay. Guilford like Roland Park, Homeland and Poplar Hill have set the stage for suburban development in the metropolitan area. Although most new suburban development was hardly the grand estate homes of the aforementioned neighborhoods many developments tried to mimic certain archetechtuial elements in row homes and ranch style detached homes.
Back to Pen Lucy and Wilson Park. Both have a large array of housing styles and sizes. The degree of maintenance, upkeep, and occupancy also varies. The extremes of the condition of the housing stock add to the bad perception of the neighborhood. York Road is a major player past present and future to how all Northern Baltimore emerge. The York Road partnership is Strategic Neighborhood Action Plan or SNAP that addresses the good, bad, and everything in between about the neighborhoods.In addition to the SNAP Pen Lucy has its own master plan because it's in such bad shape. Pen Lucy and Wilson Park are near to such great neighborhoods and land marks that relatively little has to be done on the public sector for these neighborhoods to make a turn around. As property in Govans, Waverly, and Northwood becomes more scarce and costly buyers, renters, and investors alike will seek a more affordable alternative in Pen Lucy and Wilson Park. In order to ensure that Pen Lucy turns around an old and blighted commercial strip would have to be redeveloped and that's about it. Other than infrastructure improvements like road paving, increased police presence, alley cleanups, and upkeep of housing stock both occupied and vacant.Of course reinvestment of vacant and blighted housing stock is needed but it's in a fortunate position that it can easily done on the private sector. New Development and rehabbed housing should look like it's been there along and should be predominantly owner occupied. After this relatively modest intervention these two neighborhoods will have turned themselves around and will thrive like their neighbors on all sides.