Same neighborhood, different house

Marybeth Brohawn, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Catonsville for 25 years, has helped many young couples like Poandl and Perez move into the area, especially recently.

"I feel like the development along Frederick Road, and the village center have attracted much greater numbers of single people and newly married people before their kids are born," said Brohawn, who has been living in Catonsville for 32 years. "They love what's going on."

Data from Realestate Business Intelligence supports Brohawn's observations that Catonsville home sales are on the rise. In the first six months of 2013, there were 35 more homes sold in 21228 than there were in the first six months of 2012. Previously, between 2011 and 2012 overall residential home sales in 21228 dropped from 433 to 419.

Brohawn said she has noticed that when younger families with elementary-age children move into Catonsville, they are staying for good.

"People used to move out to Howard County (when they started or grew families)," she said. "But now they're not. They're staying. They're upsizing.

"So often we sell a house to a couple and then they have a kid or two and then they upgrade, but stay in the area," Brohawn said.

That is what Kelley Shaw, 37, and her husband, Dan Shaw, 38, decided to do when, along with their two sons, students at Hillcrest Elementary School, they began to outgrow their house on Locust Drive two years ago.

"We loved our neighborhood at Locust Drive and our house, but had been there 11 years," said Kelley Shaw, who said her husband grew up in Catonsville. "We were making the decision of whether we wanted to add on to our house and do a big project with an addition or if we could find something in the neighborhood that was a natural upgrade."

In February 2012, the family moved a few streets over to a house on Forest Drive, where they currently live.

"It's a great home, it's a little bigger, and it has a bigger yard," she said. "It's just where we see ourselves being, forever really."

Shaw said she knows a number of other families making similar moves from smaller homes to larger ones within Catonsville and that, since her family relocated, she has seen another shift in the area's population.

"Just in our street in the last year, two homes, in addition to ours have turned over from retired couples ... to families," she said.

The fact that families like that of Poandl and Shaw are choosing Catonsville as they grow might account for a recent jump in elementary school enrollment in the area.

According to Maryland State Stat — a website that compiles state information of the 49 ZIP codes in Baltimore County — 21228 had the fifth highest number of residential sales in 2010 with 402.

Perhaps related to that, most of the elementary schools in Catonsvilleare above state capacity for enrollment, prompting Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to include funding for 500 new elementary seats in Catonsville in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

History repeats

Ed Orser, a professor of American Studies at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said this isn't the first time Catonsville has seen a demographic shift that brings a surge of school-age children to the area. The current boost is similar to the one from a century ago, Orser said.

Until 1910, there was only one school for grades K through 12. That same year, the county built a new high school on Frederick Road to serve as a high school — now Catonsville Elementary School —and accommodate the area's growing population.

"By 1925, that school (enrollment) was too big," said Orser, who lives in Baltimore near the Catonsville border. "They built the new Catonsville High, which is the building on Bloomsbury, in 1925."