Democratic gubernatorial candidate Parris N. Glendening toured the heart of East Baltimore yesterday, reviewing development plans for the long-vacant American Brewery site, visiting a renowned recreation center and checking out a homesteading program.
The visit was clearly aimed at solidifying the political foothold the Prince George's County executive has gained in Baltimore, where he held a successful fund-raiser last month.
"I love this stuff," Mr. Glendening said. "If we invest in community, in housing, in jobs, the return is immense.
"When I think of how many hundreds of millions [of dollars] are put into corrections, homeless services and other things," he said, government investment in community development "is really tiny."
Yesterday's tour began at Harry Mills Terrace, a garden apartment complex that tenant leaders plan to renovate and convert into co-operatives with the help of a federal grant.
With his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, Mr. Glendening walked through the 63-unit development as Katennia Lazenby, the tenant president, discussed renovation plans.
"This is how you have to fix communities," Mr. Glendening said. "You do it one project at a time, one community at a time, one family at a time."
From there, community leaders took him to the site of the old American Brewery, where construction is scheduled to begin next spring on housing for the elderly, a drugstore and a light manufacturing facility. The projects are part of the Council for Economic and Business Opportunity's $10 million development plan for the site.
Looking up at the ornate facade of the long-vacant main brewery building, Mr. Glendening proclaimed it "truly beautiful." He listened as Michael A. Barland, CEBO's vice president for economic development, outlined the project's financing, which includes several government grants.
"This is exactly what government ought to be doing," Mr. Glendening said.
Afterward, Mr. Glendening visited a block near Johns Hopkins Hospital, where workers from the People's Homesteading Project are rebuilding several homes.
The visit surprised some of the young men who are volunteering at the site in hopes of earning a home or gaining enough skills to get a job in the building trades.
"I think this is a positive thing," said 20-year-old Paul Hope Jr. "I'm glad someone running for governor would come here and see this."
After a quick stop at Hopkins, Mr. Glendening visited the Madison Square Recreation Center, where generations of Baltimore basketball legends have honed their skills. He was warmly received by children in the after-school program.
William E. Wells, director of the center, also seemed pleased by the high-level attention. "People running for public office, especially governor, usually don't come this low on the totem pole," he said.
Mr. Glendening plans to continue his efforts in Baltimore next week at a meeting of black business leaders.