A community where residents stay put Seldom do homes go on the market

Neighborhood profile: Carney

October 19, 1997|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Carol Abell and her family joined six other families for their annual block party on Nearbrook Lane in Carney, a community of about 10,000 people outside Interstate 695 in Baltimore County.

"[The block party] was just our annual summer get-together," said Abell, who has lived for the last nine years with her husband, John, and three children, Danielle, 7, Timothy 5, and Claire, 2, in a three-bedroom townhouse. "It just got pushed back a little to after the real summer."

The Nearbrook block party celebrates a reality that residents and real estate agents say is a characteristic of Carney: People stay put.

According to local real estate agents, original owners still hold a good percentage of the single-family homes in Carney.

The area takes its name from Thomas Carney, who owned the Eight Mile House Tavern on Joppa Road after moving from Texas, Md., in 1890.

Sixty to seventy years later, middle-class families living in the city began leaving their rowhouses for new, larger homes in suburbs such as Carney. Carney was close to main roads, on the public transportation route and in an area where new schools had opened.

They had no idea then that their homes would be among the most sought-after in the county, with easy access to Towson and Baltimore and stable prices.

"When we get a listing in this area, we say, 'Great, we're going to get paid,' because these houses go quick," said Tina Jackman, a Realtor with O'Conor Piper & Flynn's office in White Marsh.

Less than 60 days

Homes in Carney -- an area within a mile radius of Harford and Joppa roads -- are in the $60,000 to $150,000 price range, with many costing $100,000.

With lots up to a half-acre, Carney offers some of the best buys in homes on large lots in the Baltimore area, according to real estate agents.

Home sellers say people considering buying in Carney often must act quickly because homes commonly are sold in less than 60 days.

One reason for the quick sales is that people selling their homes in Carney tend to have realistic expectations of how much it is worth. Unlike the owners who improve their homes in the hopes of a greater resale price, owners in Carney have improved their homes, typically with new kitchen and bathroom features, for their own use.

When they sell them, the financial gain is secondary to the benefit the improvements provided them while they lived in the house, Jackman said.

Carney also provides a varied housing market, with brick- and vinyl-sided split-levels, ranchers, Colonials and Cape Cod houses spread neatly in all parts of the community.

More expensive homes tend to be off Harford Road in an area some residents call Cub Hill. Other Carney subdivisions are Harford Hills, Woodcroft, Thornwood Park, Carney's Grove, Oak Summit and Pine Grove.

Retirement community

A number of longtime Carney residents are moving into Oak Crest Village, a retirement community of 2,000 that offers assisted living, independent living and nursing home facilities.

Since its opening two years ago, Oak Crest's six-story, red-brick buildings have changed the skyline of Carney, and Don Chatman has had a front-row seat to it.

From the front lawn of his 3-acre property on East Joppa Road, he can see the upper floors of the village's new buildings.

Chatman remembers the land as a gravel pit for Harry T. Campbell and Sons, now known as Redland/Genstar.

In the four decades since he moved into his house, the area where Chatman and his friends went hunting for rabbits, squirrels and birds has given way to townhouses and single-family homes in the subdivistion of Ridgely's Choice.

More traffic

Chatman, 61, a lifelong Carney resident, and his wife, Barbara, moved into their two-bedroom rancher 45 years ago.

Road traffic has steadily increased and, now, he fears backing out of his driveway onto the five-lane stretch of Joppa Road.

Chatman said he has no plans to sell his home, despite the constant din of commuters between Parkville and White Marsh on Joppa Road.

"It's kind of convenient now, with the stores and services close by," Chatman said while taking a break from restoring a bright pink 1923 Ford in his garage.

"As we've gotten older, those things have meant more to us."

For the Abells, the block party is just one more reason for them to stay in the neighborhood.

At this year's party, the number of children on their block reached eight, with the oldest 7 years old, but the names and faces of the adults remained the same.

Since the Abells moved into the community in 1988, only three times have owners changed in the seven-building townhouse complex.

'No desire to move'

"We've really outgrown this townhouse, but we just have no desire to move," Carol Abell said.

With woods behind it and across the street, their townhouse is ideally located for them, just a 25-minute drive to Aberdeen Proving Ground for John Abell, a research analyst for Applied Research Associates, a private firm that is working with the Army.

Carol Abell has a scheme to make the townhouse bigger so the family can stay put.

When she explains the scheme, it's hard to tell if she's joking or, like many residents, trying desperately to find a way to prevent having to move away from Carney.

"I keep telling my neighbor that we should buy up the houses in this group, knock out the walls, and then we'll have two really big houses. We just know we will never find a better place to live."

Carney

Population: 10,000

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 15 minutes

Public schools: Carney Elementary, Pine Grove Elementary, Harford Hills Elementary, Pine Grove Middle, Parkville Middle, Parkville High

Shopping: Perring Plaza, North Plaza, Satyr Hill Shopping Center

Points of interest: Belmont Park, Graham Memorial Park, Double Rock Park, Gunpowder Falls State Park

ZIP codes: 21234, 21236

Average price of a single-family home: $127,998 *

* Based on 66 sales for the last 12 months by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 10/19/97

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