Scratch the surface of housing developer L. Paul Bryant and he says you'll find a social worker -- his former profession.
"I never really stopped being a social worker," said Bryant. " I looked at what was happening in this city and I said, 'It's up to me to help turn things around.' "
To that end, Bryant announced yesterday the third and last phase of a scattered-site housing project for West Baltimore being completed by his company, Baldwin Development Corp.
With several nearly renovated houses in the 800 block of Fremont Ave. as a backdrop, Bryant said that block and the 900 and 1000 blocks of nearby Arlington Ave. will have 54 new or renovated units of housing in 18 months.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and City Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III praised the $4.6 million project as an example of the public-private partnerships necessary to revitalize the city. More than half the money came from public sources.
"He doesn't have to do this," said Henson. "He could develop in parts of town where projects would be far more lucrative.
" But we are appreciative that Paul Bryant chose to bring his skills back home."
"He's given hope not only to homebuyers but the entire community," said Schmoke. "He's helping bring our neighborhoods back block by block."
After the news conference, neighborhood leaders and others toured several of the rowhouses.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom units have high ceilings, modern kitchens, white walls and beige wall-to-wall carpeting. The houses sell for $47,000 to $65,000 -- the most expensive ones have an income-producing apartment attached.
Lloyd Jamerson, who lives near the renovated houses, said Bryant's work has prompted him to work on his own home, including replacing windows. But Jamerson said he worries that drug trafficking will hinder the neighborhood's progress: "They've made a difference, but now we need to get rid of some of this [drug] traffic."
Bryant said he has asked the police to address the drug-trafficking problem. He noted that break-ins have not been a major problem. "We have far fewer break-ins than some areas of the city."
In 1987, Bryant launched Lafayette Square Inc. with partner Alexander Sotir, president of Sotir Construction Co. Together they renovated or built 43 units in Lafayette Square and nearby Upton and Harlem Park. The last phase, a solo effort for Bryant, includes renovating boarded up houses in Upton and Harlem Park and renovating nine townhouses and building two new ones in Sandtown-Winchester. A Douglass High School and Morgan State graduate, Bryant has lived in Lafayette Square since 1979.
Pub Date: 11/26/96