xml:space="preserve">
A building was accidentally demolished on the 200 block of E. Fort Avenue. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun video)

The letter Pamela Evans received from Baltimore Housing told her something she already knew: the two adjoined rowhouses behind hers were going to be knocked down in an emergency demolition.

In fact, the two Riverside properties were gone already, knocked down a day before the letter was written, two before it was postmarked.

Advertisement

On the afternoon of Sunday, May 21, Evans had just returned from moving her family's belongings to a new house in Columbia, when she heard the knocking of an excavator on a vacant rowhome around the corner.

The property, 212 E. Fort Ave., was being redeveloped by TD Development, which does business as Charm City Builders. But something had gone wrong — one wall of the building bowed menacingly outward toward an alley and there was a big crack where it adjoined its neighbor.

After meeting with the developer Saturday, May 20, city officials condemned the property and called in a contracting crew to demolish it that Sunday.

Hearing the noise, Evans went outside in search of someone in charge.

"Why wouldn't they make us evacuate?" Evans asked herself and, when she found him, the project manager.

For planned demolitions, notice to neighbors is standard procedure. The city does its best to notify people of emergency demolitions, but that's not always possible, said Tania Baker, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Housing, following the incident.

"In emergency situations, notification is not always possible prior to the start of demolition," Baker said Tuesday.

Seeing the demolition underway, Evans ran and got everyone out of her house. She, her wife and their 15-year-old son were across the street when a wall of the building being demolished toppled onto the roof of the next-door property, knocking most of it down, as well.

That property, 214 E. Fort Ave., a former pet store called Laundry Mutt, was also vacant and slated for redevelopment by another company.

Bricks and debris spewed onto Evans' back deck, damaging the railing and crushing the family's grill and patio set, she said.

Evans lives at the corner of Fort and Battery avenues; her porch is feet away from the two demolished properties.

The work crew returned the next day to clear the site.

Evans was relieved the damage wasn't more extensive and that no one inside her house was hurt. While the family evacuated, a dog and two cats remained inside.

Still, she is annoyed that the city didn't do more to alert residents, she said.

Advertisement

"It's beyond my belief that safety is not their top concern," Evans said, "that they wouldn't evacuate any of the buildings that might be impacted by one falling down the wrong way."

The two letters she received from Baltimore Housing later that week, one for each demolished property, only added insult to injury.

Both letters, dated May 22, a day after the incident, informed Evans that the buildings would be razed "in the near future."

twitter.com/sarahgantz

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement