Baltimore City's housing market is dismal in many neighborhoods. Despite excellent prices, would-be buyers are scarce. Seeing properties languish for months and months, they are deterred from buying -- fearing their ability to re-sell quickly, if and when they need to.
This is a vicious circle that is difficult to break. But one struggling neighborhood, Reservoir Hill, ought to be able to cash in on a number of improvements that will change its face within the next few years.
Bounded by Druid Hill Park, Madison Avenue, North Avenue and Jones Falls Expressway, Reservoir Hill once boasted some of Baltimore's best addresses. Some of the Eutaw Street mansions still are in magnificent condition. But the side streets today are often a wasteland of vacant and vandalized buildings. In brief, Reservoir Hill is in worse shape than it was a decade ago.
Happily, improvement is on the way.
Three landmark apartment towers -- the Esplanade, the Emersonian and the Temple Gardens overlooking Druid Lake -- are undergoing a $35 million modernization.
Six properties in the 2400 block of Lakeview Avenue will be completely rehabbed and sold to moderate-income residents. Rehabilitation is also scheduled for five properties on Linden Avenue and eight condominium units in the 900 block of Brooks Lane. Meanwhile, extensive replacement of water mains and repaving of streets are going on.
The most visible activity, though, is happening in the 900 block of Whitelock Street. Bulldozers are demolishing a cluster of deteriorated commercial buildings in a desperate effort to eradicate one of the most notorious drug bazaars in Baltimore.
"Demolition of this site gives Reservoir Hill a chance at a new identity in the shortest period of time, while providing stability by eliminating a drug strangle-hold. Whitelock Street is changing, finally, and the future of Reservoir Hill and this block now is much brighter," says city Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III.
A long-time neighborhood resource also will be relocated -- the St. Francis Neighborhood Center, which has been providing a variety of badly needed social services since 1963. They range from dental care to counseling and regular religious services.
Reservoir Hill never quite recovered from white flight or the riots of 1968. It has a lot of potential and is now getting the second chance it richly deserves.