'Why move?' Waltherson folks wonder

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE

A good community 'has stayed that way'

January 25, 2004|By Daniel Taylor | Daniel Taylor,SUN STAFF

The Waltherson neighborhood in Baltimore has been around since the 1920s and its style hasn't changed much since then.

But sometimes having a constant like that is a good thing -- at least that's how it is for some residents in this northeastern region of the city.

"It has stayed very nice," said Kathy Rogers, a former president of the Waltherson Improvement Association and a 38-year resident of the community. "I grew up here, and every time I consider moving, I think to myself, why move? It's a good community, and it has stayed that way."

A median strip with carefully planted trees and shrubs runs through the middle of Walther Boulevard.

Surrounded by flowers, a Waltherson sign welcomes visitors to the neighborhood.

Kema Levine, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, drives along the road every day. She has lived in Waltherson for eight years.

"It's a tight community," Levine said. "It's a middle-class, working-family neighborhood."

"You have your parks, your schools, and the neighbors are pretty close."

Eric Holcomb, a city planner for Baltimore's historical and architectural preservation commission, says the region developed rapidly after Walther Boulevard opened during the mid-1920s.

About 2,500 units today

"In 1899, there were only 279 dwelling units in Northeast Baltimore," he said. "By 1940, there were 14,000." Waltherson today makes up a sizable portion of the northeast, consisting of about 2,500 units out of 37,000.

Waltherson's townhouses typically have three bedrooms, a bathroom upstairs and a basement. Single-family homes typically have three to four bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms. The neighborhood also has brick and stone duplexes, which often include one-car garages.

Holcomb says the classic old-style character of the region remains, and that's a good thing.

"The quality of those houses is far superior to more modern types," he said.

"When you built a house in the 1920s, a large percentage of the cost of the house went to the actual construction of the house, such as walls and roofs, and not so much to systems such as heating."

Rogers owns a house that was built during the 1930s.

"That's one of the things I like about Waltherson; it's the variety of the houses as well as the people," she said.

"And the commute is wonderful, too. I'm only 15 minutes from downtown."

$50,000 to $160,000

Prices for single-family homes in Waltherson range from about $80,000 to $160,000, and townhouses fetch between $50,000 and $130,000.

Values have continued to rise, with the average up from about $80,000 four years ago to almost $100,000 today.

Part of this may be attributed to the community's low crime rate, says resident Bob Wiegel, who has headed Waltherson's Citizens on Patrol since 1996.

The group gives the Baltimore Police Department an "extra pair of eyes."

"We patrol the area in our own cars with signs on them," Wiegel said. "If we see someone acting suspicious, we'll call the command core, and a police officer will follow up on the complaint."

As a result, the volunteers provide the community with a faster response time, and residents appreciate the extra measure of safety.

"It gives them a feeling of security," Wiegel said. "A lot of times when we go around, people stop and talk to me. Residents like seeing us out there."

Area residents said they will continue to make Waltherson a good place to live.

"I'm optimistic," Rogers said. "The people here are really good, and we get along well. I have absolutely no plans to move."

Waltherson

ZIP codes: 21214 and 21213

Average commute time to downtown Baltimore: 15 minutes

Public schools: Glenmount Elementary, Hamilton Elementary, Woodhome Elementary, Hamilton Middle, Northern High.

Shopping: Harford Road

Homes on the market: 4

Average listing price: $99,324*

Average sale price: $98,564*

Average days on market: 56*

Sales prices as a percentage of listing: 99.23%*

*Based on 34 sales in the past 12 months as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

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