Just two years ago, I was sitting in a 12-foot-wide Remington rowhouse discussing the future of the neighborhood with one of its residents.

When I returned to that spot on tiny Fox Street this week, the house had disappeared, along with the rest of the block. An excavation team and officials of Southway Builders had moved in to start construction of Remington Row, the kind of urban mixed-use development that would have been a fantasy a decade ago.


Seawall Development, the firm creating what will be 108 one- and two-bedroom apartments, street-level shops and a floor of offices, compensated the family who lived in the Fox Street home. The work will not stop here. Seawall will eventually include a dramatic remake of the old A.D. Anderson auto body shop at 29th Street and Remington Avenue. It will be residences too.

Seawall's investments are considerable. It took an abandoned factory and renovated it as Miller's Court, which includes the cooperative business Charmington's Cafe, visited last month by President Barack Obama as he made a pitch for paid sick leave. A year ago the same firm transformed an old tire shop for the Parts & Labor restaurant and Single Carrot Theatre. Seawall also did rowhouse rebuilds.

The changes coming to this once-overlooked neighborhood started quietly a few years back and now have an energy equivalent to the many young people settling here.

Parts of this North Baltimore neighborhood were once filled with vacant or abandoned houses. Some were occupied but were feebly maintained by absentee investors. At the same time, it's a neighborhood that is comfortable with the presence of well-maintained Section 8 housing.

"Now there's a feeding frenzy for houses," said Mike Colligan, who arrived in the neighborhood five years ago and lives on West Lorraine Avenue.

Remington is a neighborhood of three distinct components. There's a southern flank bordered by North Avenue. The center section is neatly shaped by the CSX Railroad's right of way, and a northern portion abuts the leafy Stony Run Valley. That center section, where some of the roughest housing was once located, has experienced the turnaround.

Because it had been so depressed, the real estate was affordable; but its location, so near downtown, recommended it to many who moved here.

"I want to inexorably lash the new to the old," said Ryan Flanigan, who grew up in Bolton Hill and now lives on Miles Avenue. He is the vice president of the Greater Remington Improvement Association. "Having a variety of commercial spaces is key to our growth. We need everything from micro-rowhouse experimental spaces to large industrial production space."

About the change coming to his neighborhood, he told me, "Crime and vacancy are greater threats to long-term residents than responsible development."

He said the continued rebirth of North Avenue in the adjacent Station North community has provided Remington with a nightlife zone. He said that 25th Street "is where we go to shop during the day." People enjoy the presence of interspersed tradespeople — auto mechanics, roofers, music recording studios and a custom motorcycle garage, he said.

The generation moving to Remington is committed to urban living. "With the proper political will, the flow of capital and prestige that has been directed to both Remington and Baltimore can be routed in a more equitable way," Flanigan said. "We are not there for some magical thing. No one chose Remington because it was easy. We just found it at the right time."

And for all of Remington's commercial and industrial footprint, the place enjoys a distinct village-like atmosphere helped along by small streets that foster intimacy. It's also blessed with cozy restaurants, including one at 27th and Howard.

"Sweet 27 has become a town hall for many in Remington," Flanigan said. "It's a shared space where we go to relax and continue conversations about our hopes for the neighborhood."