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Quick and Dirty

Home at Last

By Anna Ditkoff | Posted 11/17/2004

In March the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Redevelopment put out a request for proposals for the redevelopment of two parcels of houses in Reservoir Hill. Eight groups submitted lengthy proposals, attended community forums, and then waited and waited. The Housing Department initially planned to award the properties in July, but it was three months later, in early November, when the decision was finally announced.

The 15 properties on Callow Avenue went to HRS Homes. The eight properties on Linden Avenue went to what many saw as the underdogs in the proposal process—a group of would-be individual homeowners who banded together and partnered with a developer to create Linden Tree. An offshoot of TechBalt, a group founded by Adam Meister that is already trying to revitalize Reservoir Hill through urban homesteading, Linden Tree looked like a long shot when the proposals were being discussed in June (“Take That Hill,” Mobtown Beat, June 30). Linden Tree was up against a series of real-estate developers that were willing to take on both the Callow Avenue and Linden Avenue parcels at once. Linden Tree only wanted the Linden Avenue homes. As individuals rather than professional developers, some saw them as a risky prospect for redevelopment of the area; others lauded the fact that Linden Tree’s proposal would mean that each house would be owned by a resident with a personal stake in the neighborhood.

These are pros and cons that Baltimore Housing’s assistant commissioner for land resources, David Levy, is very conscious of.

“We’re excited and concerned about it,” he says. “We’re encouraging creativity in the city and we think that’s a good thing, [but] we always communicated, first with Mr. Meister and then the folks who pulled together as Linden Tree, that we needed a version of assurance that number one, folks had the capacity to do the work, and two, that they could meet it on the time frame that we need to make sure that Reservoir Hill could get the redevelopment that the neighborhood deserves. . . . We were satisfied with their answers to those questions.”

Remington Stone, a leader in the Linden Tree is elated about the decision. He’s already moved to Reservoir Hill and is renting a room until he can move into the house he plans to buy. He and his group are ready to get started on their future homes and prove that the city’s trust is well placed.

“I’m serious about seeing if [this model] can work on other blocks, too, so I’m trying to make sure that we do things the right way,” he says.

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