City to move forward in Park Heights without a master developer

From The Baltimore Sun
Natalie Sherman

By Natalie Sherman

Baltimore Housing leaders say they are trying a different strategy in Park Heights after an effort to find a strong private developer to lead revitalization efforts there failed.

Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano said the city did not feel confident the firms that expressed interest in leading redevelopment efforts in the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood had the experience or financial wherewithal to handle the job, which was designed to rebuild a part of the city plagued by vacancy.

The city acquired and demolished hundreds of properties in the neighborhood over the last decade, assembling a 62-acre area. City leaders hope to see it rebuilt with homes and other new construction.

Officials in March said they were interested in finding a private firm to serve as master developer. Six teams responded in May, but several of them did not meet city requirements and others did not have the needed capacity, Graziano said, “We aren’t just going to appoint somebody to say that somebody was designated,” he said.

Graziano said the city is working with the Park Heights Renaissance nonprofit to move forward on individual projects, including workforce housing, that would anchor other parts of the neighborhood. Those are in the early planning stages, with the hope of securing development partners and getting underway in 2018, he said.

“We’re not discouraged,” he said. “I think when people see that happening and when people see the balance of the clearance, which is moving along very nicely, it will definitely change the appetite for investing there.”