Volunteers hope to transform Fells Point lot

June 26, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

More than 40 volunteers will huddle in Southeast Baltimore today to try to beautify a vacant lot and turn it into an attractive gateway to Fells Point.

The cleanup is part of Southeast Development Inc.'s Broadway corridor project, a community effort to revitalize the passageway from the waterfront to Orleans Street. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the lot on Pratt Street, between Broadway and Bethel Street.

"We picked this lot because it's a mess, and it's a major entrance into Fells Point," said Mike DiMenna, the project's coordinator.

The 70-by-120-foot lot, overgrown with grass and weeds, is composed of five or six properties owned by the city and private owners, DiMenna said. All have given the organization permission to clean up.

The city's Parks and People Foundation is supplying much of the equipment and supplies, DiMenna said. Volunteers will cut weeds, pick up trash and prepare the ground for planting.

"We have a lot of green thumbs in East Baltimore," DiMenna said, adding that more volunteers have signed up in the past few weeks.

Heber I. Portillo, manager of El Salvador Restaurant in the 200 block of S. Broadway, said improving the Broadway corridor will help bring business north from the waterfront.

"I think it's good for business," said Portillo, who is donating cases of soda and fried yucca for the cleanup. "If we make the area more attractive, it will bring more people from Fells Point to Upper Fells Point."

The Broadway corridor project began in 1997 with financing from the Johns Hopkins Medical Center and Helix Systems. Southeast Development Inc.'s goals include improving street landscaping and transportation, revitalizing local businesses and increasing homeownership in the corridor.

"As the whole Canton and Fells Point revitalization continues," DiMenna said, "it will push upward to places like this."

Pub Date: 6/26/99

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