Entire Block of Homes Under Renovation in Hollins Market

| October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

There are only six homes remaining on the eastern side of the unit block of S. Schroeder St. in Hollins Market, but they are now all under renovation. The project is being taken on by Hollins Market resident Venroy July.

July, who is an attorney and principal for law firm Miles & Stockbridge, does not consider himself a developer, but thought he’d “take a shot” at bringing this group of vacant rowhomes from 3 to 13 S. Schroeder St in his neighborhood back to life. He often wondered why no one was fixing up these homes that sit adjacent to University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) BioPark properties and less than two blocks from the Hollins Market.

July spent the last couple of years acquiring each of the properties, all of which were foreclosures, at auction. July believes that each home was likely owned by speculators who walked away. He started demo a couple months ago, began stabilizing the properties with support from Southwest Partnership (SWP), and is currently adding new roofs to the properties. He hopes to have the properties fully renovated and available for rent by spring.

The design plans are being finalized with July’s architects, but the three-story brick homes will be renovated within the current footprint and will likely be two- or three-bedroom homes with two bathrooms and new back decks.

All of the homes will be rentals as July plans to hold onto them as he believes in the future of the neighborhood. He is considering making one or two of the homes affordable. He isn’t sure yet if that will just be a lower price offering, working with Section 8, or another formula.

The block the homes occupy is bordered by Unit S. Schroeder St. to the west, Unit S. Amity St. to the east, the 900 block of W. Baltimore St. to the north, and the 900 block of Booth St. to the south. The remainder of the block is a maintained grass lot owned by UMB. The BioPark has a growing footprint along the 800 and 900 blocks of W. Baltimore St. along with some adjacent blocks. A new UMB Community Engagement Center recently started construction at 16 S. Poppleton in a formerly-vacant 20,000 sq. ft. building, and BioPark partner Wexford Science & Technology is planning a $200-plus million, 10-story, 333,000 sq. ft. office and biotech building at the northwest corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and W. Baltimore St.

UMB has not yet announced any plans for this lot on S. Schroder St., and July said he has not heard any plans at this point.

Across Schroeder St. is a vacant lot owned by developer Cecil Clarke. It features a free-standing brick archway which is all that is left from a former building that was demolished. Clarke recently renovated all the existing rowhomes on the block with new storefronts and new apartments above.

July moved to Hollins Market in 2015 and became a fan of the neighborhood and its active neighborhood associations. He said he found it to be much better than its reputation he heard going in. Speaking about its location near Downtown, UMB, and the West Baltimore MARC station, July said, “I don’t understand why this neighborhood isn’t booming. There’s no reason it’s not more vibrant.”

Given this, he began investing himself. He has lived in several homes in the neighborhood and now has four rental properties in his portfolio, not counting the six homes he has under renovation.

July is confident in the future of the neighborhood and the projects taking place. The 14,000 sq. ft. public market Hollins Market is being redeveloped by Baltimore Public Markets Corporation and Scott Plank’s War Horse Cities. Exterior renovations have begun and plans for interior improvements are expected soon. July said this could have a “catalytic effect” on the neighborhood. He said people are excited, it will lead to more investment, and that it will get people from UMB and Downtown walking farther into the neighborhood.

War Horse Cities has acquired more than 45 properties around Hollins Market and is planning renovated homes, renovated commercial spaces, and 15 new townhomes. War Horse recently began construction on residential rowhome renovations around Hollins Market. The new townhomes are expected to begin construction in the coming months. War Horse is also redeveloping a vacant 46,710 sq. ft. former Montgomery Ward shirt factory at 1020 W. Pratt St. into an office building.

SWP has a bold vision, which has been outlined on Google Maps, to redevelop many areas of Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Hollins Roundhouse, Mount Clare, Pigtown, Poppleton, and Union Square. July called SWP Executive Director Michael Seipp and SWP Program Director of Economic Development Tony Scott the quarterbacks of development in Southwest Baltimore. SWP is working hard to link properties with developers and getting the title to vacant buildings. SWP has put much of its focus on bringing W. Baltimore St., which has vacant storefronts and buildings in need of repair, back to life.

SWP purchased the former Lord Baltimore Theater at 1110 W. Baltimore St. in Hollins Market/Poppleton with hopes of revitalizing it as a cultural arts and education center.

As far as future development projects in Hollins Market for July now that he is under construction on this six-home project, he said, “We’ll see how this goes.”

Across S. Schroder St. 

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.