Courtesy The Community Builders

The Community Builders (TCB) has transformed three of the most challenging blocks in Central West Baltimore, addressing decades of disinvestment and abandonment with a new 87-unit mixed-income development.

The nonprofit’s Marshall Gardens project, which entails 27 apartments and 60 townhouses, is largely new construction with the development of an apartment building as well as townhouses that replace the many condemned properties and empty lots that left holes, or “missing teeth,” in the neighborhood. It’s also a substantial rehab project with the preservation of five historic rowhouses.

“We’ve replaced blight with revival,” says Patrick Wagner, senior project manager.

Courtesy The Community Builders

For the development, TCB acquired 146 separate lots with the help from the city’s “Vacants to Value” program. These properties were conveyed to TCB for $1 each subject to an acceptable development plan. A complicated site change—involving a full block of properties—was accomplished midway through the planning effort, in order to create a more cohesive development and address neighborhood concerns.

The $29.8 million Marshall Gardens essentially recreates an entire streetscape with infill housing that brings families back into the neighborhood. Ninety percent of the units have two or more bedrooms, and more than half offer three- and four-bedroom units, a move made to benefit larger families that were living in crowded conditions, says Jacqueline Alexander, vice president of development for Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Marshall Gardens is also mixed-income, serving households ranging from 30% to 80% of the area median income.

The project is named after Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, whose boyhood home is across the street from the project’s core section. He would have walked past the homes to go to his church and his school.

“Bringing redevelopment to this street is critical,” Wagner says. “I’m hoping that this will spur additional redevelopment.”