Baltimore's Greenmount West Neighborhood Faces Fears of Gentrification

The neighborhood of Greenmount West provides a case study of neighborhoods exposed to the risks of gentrification as a result of cultural changes and pointed policy measures meant to reverse the status quo in crime and poverty ridden neighborhoods.

The Greenmount West neighborhood in Baltimore is a ten-minute walk from Baltimore's Penn station, and home to one of the country's highest concentrations of subsidized housing units. And change is coming to Greenmount West, according to an article by Andrew Zaleski. For evidence of the change, "[simply] look at East Oliver Street, now the site of new and renovated townhouses, a tool library, a makerspace, the year-old Baltimore Design School for students in grades six through nine, and City Arts, an apartment building with 69 affordable-housing units for local artists."

"But Greenmount West’s transformation comes at a cost. Greenmount West’s median home price rose from $10,000 in 2002 to $184,900 in 2013, when 19 housing units were sold. Property taxes have increased as people with higher incomes have moved in and rehabbed older or vacant buildings."

The increased investment, and subsequent rise in the cost of living, is a result of local and state policies, like a state program that formally designated the neighborhood as an "arts and entertainment district…in 2002" and a city designation of the neighborhood as a "community development cluster," which "[encourages] developers capable of renovating entire blocks of vacant houses."

Right now, at least, "there are legacy residents eager to live alongside a new creative class," but the question for Baltimore's planners and politicians is how to ensure that the neighborhood continues to improve its quality of life without altering its character or displacing at-risk populations to other locations without Greenmount West's inherent benefits. 

Full Story: Can a Baltimore Neighborhood Avoid the Pitfalls of Gentrification?

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