Baltimore mayor to demolish block of vacant homes in Druid Heights

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Ten vacant houses covering the full block of 502-522 Baker Street in West Baltimore will be demolished starting Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., Mayor Catherine Pugh announced in a news release Tuesday.

The mayor will be joined at the site by Secretary Kenneth C. Holt from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, a partner in the city’s demolition efforts.

The razing is part of the administration’s plans to reduce the number of vacant and boarded properties to below 15,000 — the lowest number in more than 15 years.
In the midst of West Baltimore blight, an ambition for new housing and a cup of coffee

Plans for the site involve the expansion of the multiphase affordable homeownership project known as Bakers View Townhomes. Development of Bakers View in the Druid Heights Community is in Phase II and includes the building of 14 additional townhomes, following the original 17 already constructed. Upon full completion of all phases, Bakers View would have 87 townhomes.

“Essential to our priority of reversing decades-old neglect of neighborhoods and key corridors of our City, we are committed to eliminating abandoned, boarded houses to pave the way for new investment and long-awaited revitalization,” Pugh said in the news release. “We owe it to residents to provide them neighborhoods and public spaces that support their quality of life, allowing them to raise families and enjoy the same opportunities of other areas of the City that are thriving as a result of partnerships, investment, and growth.”
In 2010, Baltimore had 16,800 vacants. Eight years and millions of dollars later, the number is down to 16,500

City, state, and private funds are being used to play for the Bakers View Townhomes project. The project received $1.1 million in bond money from DHCD; $400,000 in State Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative Funds; and $250,000 in additional state money, the news release said. Druid Heights CDC also received funds from Project CORE to stabilize vacant properties.

Other plans in the area include a new public square to be known as Druid Square. Druid Square will be similar to other public squares in the city, such as LaFayette Park. Bordered by Baker Street to the north; Gold Street to the South; Druid Hill Avenue to the east; and Division Street to the west, Druid Square will sit on 2.7 acres and will feature green space and a Kaboom playground.

The square is the vision of the Baltimore Green Network, DHCD, Druid Heights CDC and community residents. Creating Druid Square ties into the city’s desire to build assets through greening vacant properties and reconnecting communities to Baltimore’s collection of parks and greenways.

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