300 tour Reservoir Hill houses

Six buildings for sale by city

part of efforts to eliminate blight

October 27, 2002|By Elizabeth A. Shack | Elizabeth A. Shack,SUN STAFF

First the back porch fell off. Then the roof collapsed, taking the second and third floors with it. Three years ago, all that remained of the rowhouse at 2320 Eutaw Place was the facade and a pile of debris.

Yesterday the house, now owned and partially repaired by the city, served as the headquarters of a tour that included that rowhouse and five others - also in various stages of disrepair - that are for sale in Reservoir Hill. More than 300 potential buyers strolled through the neighborhood for three hours to inspect the run-down buildings and talk with city officials.

The city obtained the houses in the historic residential area from "people who own vacant property and who've not fixed it up as required by law," said JoAnn Copes of the city Department of Housing and Community Development. Owners are required to repair the buildings, or sell them to the city for fair-market value.

Buyers interested in any of the six houses must make application explaining their plans for the building and showing their financial ability to make repairs. Preference will be given to Baltimore residents who will occupy the houses.

The costs of nearby houses vary widely. In the past two years, some sold for more than $100,000, and some that needed less extensive renovations than those on display yesterday sold for less than $50,000. Several buildings that were likely not habitable sold for less than $5,000, Copes said.

The renovations of 2320 Eutaw Place are nowhere near finished, with exposed joists on the walls and ceilings and white plastic covering empty windows. However, that building was in far better condition than some of the other five. Plywood and caution tape covered holes in the floors and staircases and debris littered the floors.

House shoppers Laura Amos and Danielle Nekimken sloshed across soggy blue carpet at 2028 Linden Ave. The Mount Vernon residents were searching for a building where some of the original character remained.

"We're looking for any scrap of details left," Nekimken said.

They found some at 2223 Brookfield Ave., though most of the carving around the first floor fireplace was charred by fire. Amos also admired a metal heating grate set into the floor in the front hall.

That house, like the others, needs "monumental" repairs, she said, and she estimated they would take six to nine months - even longer "if you want to redo the details," Nekimken added.

The work involved in rehabbing the Brookfield house was too much for second-grade teacher Lori Penny, 27. "I wasn't expecting them to be so gutted-out," she said.

She was more interested in the houses on Eutaw Place. "Those two blocks of Eutaw are gorgeous," Penny said.

The city is buying about 100 more houses to eliminate blight and benefit the city, Copes said.

"Ultimately, the city gains and gets its money back in real estate taxes," she said.

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