Developer Lise Worthington doesn't see a real estate slump in Pigtown.
She just finished rehabbing three rowhouses on Bayard Street, she has lined up work on 11 more houses in the area, and she just won her first new-construction contract from the city to build 10 town houses on West Pratt Street.
Ms. Worthington is a great fan of Pigtown, a community she lives and works in. "People know one another here," she said.
And not content to manage from the office, Ms. Worthington often works alongside the laborers she recruits from the neighborhood.
She has vivid memories of last summer's scorching days, spent digging century-old soil out of basements and heaving it through tiny street-level windows. From there, the 20 truckloads of dirt was shoveled and hauled away.
Ms. Worthington started buying and rehabilitating properties in Pigtown, a neighborhood just west of downtown Baltimore, several years ago. She still rents out 10 houses that she renovated and, last year, she sold five others that she saved.
When Ms. Worthington started work on the houses at 1221, 1223 and 1225 Bayard St., the 100-year-old houses had fallen into disrepair and had accumulated numerous housing code violations.
A pile of trash had piled up in the back yard of one house. Another house had a bathroom that leaked through the kitchen ceiling below.
And the house at 1221 Bayard St. hadn't changed in years -- an elderly woman watching the renovation said the house had the same faded blue walls when she lived there as a child.
Now that renovations are done, the 980-square-foot houses are selling for $60,000. Located two blocks from Carroll Park, each house has three bedrooms, one full bathroom and a powder room, air conditioning, carpeting and a refinished basement room.
The houses also have low-interest financing. The Maryland Community Development Administration in Annapolis set aside
$180,000 in mortgage money at 5 percent interest for the three houses.
To qualify for CDA low-interest mortgages on the Bayard Street properties, an individual or couple can have a maximum income of $25,900 and a minimum income of about $16,300 with some debt.
Ms. Worthington is sold on Pigtown, which is about a mile from the Orioles' new baseball stadium in Camden Yards. Now that Pigtown is on a route to the stadium, Ms. Worthington anticipates brighter days for a neighborhood that has had a poor image for years.
Next, she is starting work on 11 houses clustered in the area around Bayard, Carroll and Ward streets near Carroll Park.
Last month Ms. Worthington won approval from the city Department of Housing and Community Development to start her first new housing development. She won a bid to build 10 town houses in the 800 block of West Pratt Street on land that was owned by Baltimore.
Situated a block from the B&O Railroad Museum amid recently restored homes, the 1,400-square-foot Pratt Street houses will have two stories, with two large bedrooms on the second floor and a finished basement. Each house will also have its own parking place, and will sell for $85,000.