Baltimore neighborhood gives itself a welcome sign

January 04, 1991|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Evening Sun Staff

Call it a sign of the times.

The sign, a wooden replica of a 19th century Victorian house with a white front porch, reflects a revitalized Irvington neighborhood, where house prices have more than doubled in five years.

Located on the 3300 block of Frederick Road, the 9-foot sign was unveiled yesterday by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and other dignitaries.

Onlookers clapped. About 20 or so pre-schoolers who were on hand for the dedication ceremony whooped and cheered.

House prices in Irvington have jumped from $20,000 five years ago to almost $50,000 today, and the revitalization has given cause for a celebration -- and a sign, according to Brenda Ready, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Service in Irvington.

"The neighbors and merchants felt there was a strong sense of neighborhood here, a strong sense of identity, and they wanted the rest to know," said Ready.

Before revitalization efforts began in 1986, the neighborhood was plagued with declining property values, high vacancy rates, absentee landlords and problems with drug dealers, said Ready.

With the help of the city and a revolving loan fund, the private, non-profit NHS helped owners to renovate their houses and hTC renters to buy their homes. All total, 47 houses were renovated or rehabilitated through the service's program, said Ready.

The neighborhood has taken a turn for the better, according to Roger McCammon, owner of the Frederick Station in the 4000 block of Frederick Road.

"I think it has stabilized," said McCammon, also a member of the Irvington Merchants Association.

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