Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sit On It! Part II

Now during these tough economic times there are development opportunities in Baltimore but they're not $500,000 plus condos in neighborhoods around the harbor, in fact it's just the opposite. Many neighborhoods that have been neglected over the decades may have their day in the sun because inflation hasn't reared its ugly head in them. Again, I stress that it's risky to come forth with large development plans even in these neighborhoods. The best thing to do is invest in the existing housing stock on a much lower scale. I would even advise against buying an entire row of homes and rehabbing them because you only sell half of them and the slower they sell the more money you lose. The best thing to do is to buy one unit, rehab it and either live in or sell it. This is far cry from a couple of years ago but remember, this is only temporary.

Here are some neighborhoods that may benefit during these times.
Although this is a big project it has been much anticipated for some time. It will be the near the Red Line when it's built and is already near the West Baltimore MARC Station. It's not dense enough to be considered TOD but being near will be a selling point. This will be a great place to house BRAC transplants.
Edmondson Village/Allendale/Rognel Heights
This area has a lot of older residents who bought high during the "Blockbusting" Era from white Homeowners who sold low. Edmondson Village with the help of Uplands and the West Baltimore MARC Station and the Red Line will be the perfect place for rehabbers. There are plenty of individual blighted properties that don't need to be torn down and sweat equity will not only pay for the buyer of the house but for the neighborhood as a whole because the amount of eyesores will decrease. A new influx of residents may help in efforts to bring better businesses to Edmondson Village Shopping Center like sit down Restaurants, Banks, and High QualityFull Service Grocery Stores stocked with fresh produce. This has been something existing residents have been pushing for for a long time.
Orchard Ridge
This former public housing site containing low,mid, and high rises under the names Freedom Village and Claremont Homes is being redeveloped into new mixed income town homes that are selling like hot cakes! Another factor; location location location. Way to go HOPE VI
Belair Edison
Up until 2007 Belair Edison was a self sustained culturally and ethnically diverse working class neighborhood but then crime reared its ugly head. Possibly the closing of Freedom Village and Claremont Homes that brought it on. If existing residents band together and new residents join existing ones I'm confident that Belair Edison won't go too far into decline. Inflation hasn't jacked up home prices so rehabbers can get their tools ready for this one! There is a Healthy Neighborhoods initiative in place offering low interest loans for rehabbers.
Mondowmin/Penn North
The renovation of Mondowmin Mall and the designation of certain blocks of the neighborhood as eligible for low interest loans and lack of inflation Mondowmin may turn from blight to delight!
Penn North may be in for a rougher ride. In the 1990s there was a little bit of new development there that has had a positive effect on the neighborhood. There are vacant parcels on the western edge of the neighborhood designated for TOD which can have effects on existing homes. First, lets assume that it's built TOD usually fetches a higher price tag for being close to transit. This can bring inflation to existing homes, something we're trying to avoid. Even if the TOD is built at reasonable prices it can still inflate the values of existing homes. It probably won't be built until the economy turns around and Penn North has had success with new development so rehabbing the existing housing stock has the potential to be very beneficial. Granted the cost to rehab will be very high because the housing stock is not very healthy so further intervention may be needed.
Upper Reisterstown Road
I just did a post regarding the development of vacant parking lots and increasing density along this suburban stretch of Reisterstown Road but if you turn off of Reisterstown Road you find a diverse and generally healthy housing stock. There are some homes in need of repair but they can be bought at a relatively low price so get to work!
Reservoir Hill
The Real Estate Market in Reservoir Hill became hot at the tail end of the real estate boom. This means both inflated home prices and a high rate of foreclosure. However, there are many gems in this neighborhood still in need of a rehab and much to the chagrin of homeowners who bought high and are hanging on by a thread are being put on the market at a much lower price which gives the homeowners who bought high no equity. But for someone looking to rehab a gem look no further than Reservoir Hill.
Walbrook Junction
Located at the West End of North Avenue this neighborhood has seen its share of crime and urban decline but turn off of North Avenue and travel towards Gwynns Falls Parkway and you will see a generally healthy housing stock of row homes that aren't over priced. North Avenue increases the bad perception of this neighborhood. Some of it's real but a new influx of home owners may curb the trend of crime.
Greater Forest Park
There has been a rise in crime in this otherwise peaceful community. However, this area provides quite possibly the best housing package the city has to offer. It consists mostly of well maintained single family detached homes and duplexes. It is alomost completely engulfed by parkland. On the south there's Gwynn's Falls/Leakin Park, on the east there's Lake Ashburton, on the there's Grove Park. In the middle of the community is Forest Park Golf Course On the northern border there's the subway line. The only thing missing is a replacement Grocery Store at Liberty Heights and Gwynn Oak Avenues.
Greater Lauraville/Hamilton
The housing stock is similar to that of Forest Park in terms of housing options, age and condition, and price. It is also near parkland, golf, and a lake. It's near Mount Pleasant Park and Clifton Park both of which have golf courses. In addition Lake Montebello is also nearby. Need I say more?
East York Road
This covers a lot of ground from Govans to Pen Lucy. The condition of the housing stock and the quality of the neighborhoods differ tremendously but I do believe that they will all benefit from reinvestment.
Upton/Druid Heights
Upton, like Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill has a treasure chest's worth of beautiful homes just waiting to be restored to their former glory especially in the famed "Marble Hill" section. Luckily most of Upton is a National Historic District that doesn't allow for buildings to be torn down. There are some homes however that have become too dilapidated and have to be torn down. More good news, Police have made Pennsylvania Avenue safer by ridding it of one of the city's largest open air drug markets. In Druid Heights, close to the entire has been or is being completely torn down and rebuilt thanks to the Druid Heights Development Corporation. Units are affordable enough for homeownership in a part of the city where it is desperately needed.
Sandtown Winchester
Sandtown once one of the city's worst neighborhoods has benefited very nicely from new development on its southern and eastern sections. However, the northern and the western sections remain in dire condition. Separating these two sections of the neighborhood is the Gilmor Homes public housing development. Gilmor Homes may be in a long line of public housing sites to hit the wrecking ball. After this happens the still ailing northern and western sections of Sandtown will make a turn around from reinvesting in the current housing stock when appropriate and redevelopment when appropriate.
Photo from
72 hours ago I thought Oliver was too forgone to be attractive for new homeowners. But then I read about Preston Place, a new development in Oliver in which houses could be assembled within a day. This sounds like the perfect catalyst for new life in Oliver.
Union Square/Hollins Market
If the real estate boom had continued Union Square and Hollins Market would have certainly been its next target. These two neighborhoods are home to a housing stock that is well preserved, vacant, and demolished. The vacant units are waiting to be occupied after an extensive renovation of course.
Mount Clare/Carrollton Ridge/Mill Hill
Home to small narrow row homes with lots of vacant units these working class neighborhoods will certainly enjoy a revival as vacant, boarded up units become homes again. Since the homes aren't huge like in other neighborhoods I've described the cost of renovation will minimal.

Unlike the ending of my last post, I will end this one by DON'T Sit On It! This is where you can rehab and reinvest in existing housing stock and make the number of vacant units in the city dwindle while at the same time creating more attractive safer neighborhoods for generations to come.

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