|Photo from Google Earth|
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
North Avenue Baltimore's Spine for Reinvestment II: West Baltimore
Reservoir Hill hasn't been as lucky as Bolton Hill. It seems to want to emerge as a major draw for new Residents especially given its location near Station North, MICA, and University of Baltimore. For every rehabbed house success story in Reservoir Hill, there are two to three stories of abandonment. One big drawback has been Madison Park North Apartments(pictured above), a run own section 8 complex nicknamed "Murder Mall" that is directly across North Avenue from Spicer's Run.
The City has been threatening to revoke the housing license of Murder Mall's owners for close to four years now. Residents of Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill have been calling on the City to do just that and redevelop the struggling complex. Seeing how it's a gateway to Reservoir Hill I think Student Housing for UMB and MICA Students will help extend Station North into Reservoir Hill and begin attracting new Residents to start rehabbing the gorgeous and vacant homes in Reservoir Hill in droves.
Further down North Avenue west of Reservoir Hill lies Penn North. Although most of Penn North remains blighted, there are a couple of success stories. First there's Nehemiah Homes development built in the early 1990s that encompasses three blocks of the Neighborhood along Woodbrook Avenue, Ettings St, and Francis St. These homes remain in pristine condition thanks to Residents taking great pride in their homes. Next there's the recently completed Penn Square Apartments just above North Avenue on Pennsylvania Avenue. These low income Apartments have transformed the land they occupy and well as clean homes for its Residents, Penn Square also provides a Daycare Center, a much needed addition to the Community.
These islands of stability in Penn North show that if additional new housing were built, the Neighborhood could support it perhaps even broadening the income mix. To truly change the face of Penn North, the blighted and vacant industrial properties would have to be re-zoned to solely Residential uses with Neighborhood Retail only allowed on Pennsylvania and North Avenues. As part of the means to change the face of Penn North, the blight in between Penn Square and Nehemiah Homes must be eliminated and redeveloped. The three blocks above Nehemiah Homes will be Town Homes not unlike Nehemiah Homes sold to working class and middle class Families. Along Pennsylvania Avenue across and the block above Penn Square will be Apartments not unlike Penn Square which will include Neighborhood Services similar to the existing Daycare Center as well as light Retail. The eastern edge of Penn North will include more rehabs as the blocks there are healthier but there will also opportunities for new housing as well.
Druid Heights is located along Pennsylvania Avenue south of North Avenue and Penn North. Like the new housing in the area there has been an interest in Commercial reinvestment along this stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue. The recently opened "Avenue Bakery" has been a solid anchor to the Community that its Owners hope other Entrepreneurs use as a Business Model to breathe new life into Pennsylvania Avenue. Another Commercial victory for Pennsylvania Avenue will be the renovation of the Sphinx Club. Although the new Sphinx club won't be a Jazz Club, it will house a Museum dedicated to African American Athletes complete with a Cafe. Not only will the building that housed the Sphinx club be restored, a three story building to house the complex will be built on a vacant lot next to it. Hopefully this reinvestment/redevelopment energy will continue down Pennsylvania Avenue into Upton and further West along North Avenue as well.