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Baltimore Begins New Round of Demolitions

Baltimore officials joined community leaders Tuesday to demolish six blighted properties in the 1600 block of Lansing Avenue in the Oliver neighborhood of East Baltimore.  The demolition is the first since the Board of Estimates approved spending $10 million from the national mortgage settlement fund for demolition projects. 

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said knocking down the vacant houses is part of her strategy to attract 10,000 families to the city over the next decade.

“When you live in a community that has been neglected and abandoned; you don’t want to stay, either,” said Rawlings-Blake, who also said knocking down the properties would help create new opportunities.

The Rev. Calvin Keene, pastor of nearby Memorial Baptist Church, was the first one to take the controls of a crane to swing at one of the houses.

Keene, who grew up in Oliver, said the amount of blight in the neighborhood was part of the challenge in rebuilding the community and a demolition plan was needed.  “Some of them were in such poor condition that they really couldn’t be renovated so we really have to demolish them and do some other planning for community use,” Keene said.

The vast majority of the money, $9.25 million, will be used to demolish vacant, blighted properties and help relocate property owners and tenants when necessary.  The remainder will go to the Vacants to Value Homebuyer’s Assistance program for the purchase of rehabbed properties.