Where the rich live

February 27, 2000|By Mary E. Medland | Mary E. Medland,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Last year was a boon for luxury home sales in the Baltimore metropolitan market. Multiple contracts. Bidding wars. Homes selling within hours of being listed.

Buyers flocked to the better-known neighborhoods and subdivisions in the area -- Roland Park, Mount Washington, Ruxton, Annapolis, Todd Lakes, Gaither Farm and so on -- in hopes of finding the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood.

But did those buyers ever wonder where the most desirable addresses in the most sought-after neighborhoods are in metropolitan Baltimore?

Not just garden-variety, run-of-the-mill snooty, but the high and mightiest of all addresses, those one or two specific streets that carry such appeal, such cachet, such panache that only those who hobnob in those circles would nod their heads with approval.

So what are Baltimores best blocks? A survey of several real estate agents and brokers revealed what they considered to be the creme de la creme. For those who think any old street in Guilford is as good as another, think again.

The 4200 to the 4400 blocks of Greenway have more snob appeal than anywhere else in Guilford, said Karen Bisbee, vice president and associate broker with OConor Piper & Flynn ERA.

She is seconded by Arthur Otts Davis, president of Chase Fitzgerald & Co, the Roland Park boutique realty firm. As far as Guilford goes, Greenway is certainly not a slouch road, he said.

Same for Roland Park and Ruxton in Baltimore County. Certain roads have more mystery and allure than others.

Often the most desirable streets develop a certain panache because they have a number of very substantial houses on them, Bisbee said. The perception is that housing goes along with an extravagant lifestyle that the inhabitants must have -- often the older the houses, the more bucolic picture that is painted.

Bisbee and Davis consider Blythewood Road in Roland Park as one of the citys truly lush addresses. Though its only two blocks long and intersects Wyndhurst Avenue, Its pretty much estate row; there are no insignificant houses here, Bisbee said.

In Guilford, a stones throw from both Greenway and Sherwood Gardens is the 100 block of Highfield Road, which Bisbee said is another hot address.

Not to mention Charlotte Place, at North Charles Street and Greenway. Theres the old Douglas Gordon estate, which just sold for over $2 million, said Bisbee. Not unexpectedly, the houses surrounding this grand old place are pretty swank themselves.

Furthermore, she swears that many residents of these exclusive addresses dont come from old money.

A lot of normal people live in these houses, she added. Theyre raising families, and are often doctors, stockbrokers, lawyers, and artists -- theyre not all stockpiled in one industry.

All those different cultural backgrounds make for wonderful neighborhoods.

Davis likes St. Georges Road, Poplar Hill Road and Winding Way. Most people think these roads are in Roland Park, but technically the area is Poplar Hill, he said.

St. Georges Road, which is west of Roland Avenue and north of Northern Parkway, is really, really gorgeous and very sought after, said Bisbee. These are houses that people salivate over.

Of course, said Davis, a sort of reverse snobbism is also going on. People are moving from Roland Park and Guilford to downtown Fells Point, Federal Hill, and Canton, he said. Some are empty nesters, some own boats, and others work downtown.

Its a totally different dynamic -- we have so many people coming into the city, especially Roland Park and Guilford, from the county because they want real sidewalks to push their strollers on, and want to be able to walk to the post office. Theres a desire to return to neighborhood living and a real yen not to spend ones entire life in the car.

Baltimore County

Barely over the city line is Woodbrook Lane.

Its right across from Eddies on Charles Street , said Bisbee. Id be shocked to find anything here for under $1 million, and anything that might become available would be heartily sought after.

Of course, theres good old Ruxton.

But Ruxton is tough, said Davis. There will be a wonderful stretch of two or three big houses, then two or three small houses.

This doesnt bother Baltimore people, but it does get to out-of-towners, who dont understand a $1.5 million house next door to a $300,000.

Much of this seeming peculiarity, he added, is due to the fact that Ruxton got its start as a place to build summer cottages.

But certainly Ruxton Road and Ellingham Road are desirable, Davis said. In Ruxton, the west side of Bellona Avenue is where most of the big properties are.

Bisbee considers the 7200 to the 8000 blocks of Bellona Ave. as prime turf. Its estate row, she said. There are probably about 12 really spectacular houses there.

And then theres Green Spring Valley and its sister, Worthington Valley.

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