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The Callow Avenue Comeback

The 2200 block of Callow Avenue in Reservoir Hill has been described as the hole in the doughnut of redevelopment in that West Baltimore neighborhood.  "This is the core, development occurred all around it," said Carl Cleary, housing coordinator for the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.

While the 2100 block of Callow- south of Reservoir Street - has been revitalized, Callow north of Reservoir still has more vacant properties than occupants.  The first few homes in the 2200 block are intact.  After that, homes are missing windows; if they have not been broken or boarded up.  In other cases, roofs – even parts of buildings – are completely gone.

Now, officials say work will begin in January to rehabilitate or rebuild eight homes in the 2200 block of Callow Avenue in hopes of attracting investment to the heart of the neighborhood.

The improvement council is partnering with Healthy Neighborhoods and the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation on the project, which is being financed through a combination of government subsidies and construction financing from Hamilton Bank and M&T Bank.

Kelly Little, executive director of the Druid Heights CDC, said the houses will retain their original average size of 3,100 square feet, most of them with four bedrooms.

“We know that’s also important to the market and people that are looking to purchase.  A lot of people want to purchase these houses in Reservoir Hill because of the size,” said Little.

He said it’s important to balance the cost of rehabbing the houses with keeping them affordable. 

“This is not like when you do new construction; you just come in with a clean slate.  Here, we sort of have to fit into the existing conditions, yet we have to make it like a new house.”

The buildings are in such bad shape, officials said, that it will cost about $400,000 to rebuild or rehab each one. They are looking to sell the houses for $240,000.  Marketing will begin in early 2015.  Construction is expected to be complete by the middle of the year.

Cleary said he hopes the work in the 2200 block of Callow will "prime the pump" for more investment to the long ignored street.

“The spillover effect of completing the 2200 block will impact the 2300 block,” he said. "We’ve got a number of private investors that have already purchased properties on the 2300 block."