The Southeast Baltimore neighborhood known as Greektown was settled during the early 20th century by mostly working-class European immigrants.

In the 1950s, the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was established in the area, drawing many Greek families who moved to the neighborhood through the 1960s and into the 1970s.

It wasn't until the late 1980s that the neighborhood, after petitioning the city, was officially recognized with the name Greektown. Before that, it was known simply as "The Hill."

Today, the area is in the midst of major changes.

With many vacancies in storefronts along Eastern Avenue, Greektown is undergoing a $50 million revitalization of the business district.

"The business district is predominantly owned by Greeks who aren't looking to sell their property," says Jason Filippou, director of development for the Greektown Community Development Corp.

"The challenge is to find businesses that keep the dynamics of the neighborhood and appease the owners," he says.

Housing in the neighborhood is diverse.

There are two-story rowhouses with bay windows and townhouses with ornate front porches. Athena Square offers a row of newly constructed upscale townhouses.

According to Theo Harris of Keller Williams Realty in Baltimore, most of the houses in the area are priced between $160,000 and $180,000. The properties in Athena Square are priced from $290,000 to $350,000.

Some houses are separated into a top-floor unit and a bottom-floor, providing options for those wishing to rent. According to John Chrissomallis of RE/MAX Sails in Baltimore, a one-bedroom unit can be priced from $700 to $850 a month and a two-bedroom unit from $950 to $1050 a month.

Another option is renting an entire house with a monthly rent between $1,100 and $1,300.

"The community has the reputation of one of the safest in the city," says Filippou.

Deputy Maj. William Davis of the Baltimore City Police Department agrees that Greektown is one of the safer neighborhoods in the Southeastern District. "Most of the crime in the area is property-based," says Davis. "Most of it is larceny from autos, but there is the occasional burglary."

The schools that serve the area are John Ruhrah Elementary, Southeast Middle and Patterson Senior High.

According to Maryland Department of Education data (md reportcard.org), John Ruhrah Elementary has met state proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. Southeast Middle has not met proficiency levels in reading or mathematics. Patterson Senior High has met state proficiency levels in mathematics, but not reading.

Greektown's business district offers a number of specialty stores. The shops in Highlandtown are within walking distance, and Canton and Dundalk are a short drive away.

Although most residents travel by car, there are four bus routes that run through the neighborhood.

The closest large grocery store is Safeway in Canton, but Greektown houses several businesses that sell gourmet baked goods, meats and fresh produce.

The neighborhood is home to numerous restaurants that offer traditional Greek fare. It's also possible to find Tex-Mex and American cuisines.

Greektown doesn't have a bustling nightlife, but there are several small neighborhood pubs. However, it is very close to Canton's O'Donnell Square and a short drive to the Inner Harbor.

Greektown is home to the annual Greek festival and parade. The Mora Crossman Center, in conjunction with John Ruhrah Elementary, provides recreation space for the community's youths.

greektownmd.org

brad.schleicher@baltsun.com