City begins demolition of Johnston Square properties
By Steve Kilar
5:48 PM EST, November 9, 2012
The city has started demolishing more than 35 properties in the Johnston Square neighborhood, across Interstate 83 from Mid-Town Belvedere, in order to create a green space across what is now five city blocks.
“It's been a long time coming,” said Walter Jones, president of the Johnston Square Community Development Corp. “I've seen three or four mayors have interest in this. It's good that our present mayor took initiative to finish the job.”
Jones was part of a delegation including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano who watched as demolition of a home in the 1100 block of Barclay St. got underway Friday morning.
Once all of the homes are taken down, several streets will be take up and a green square will be left in its place, Graziano said. The park will be bordered by I-83 on the west, Greenmount Avenue on the east, East Biddle Street to the north and East Chase Street to the south, he said.
Homes facing the square on East Biddle and East Chase streets will eventually be rehabbed, he said. The project is part of the mayor's Vacants to Value initiative.
The houses to be demolished are: on Barclay Street, numbers 1100-1134 and 1105-1113; on Brentwood Avenue, numbers 1117-1135; and on East Chase Street, numbers 408, 410, 407, 409 and 415-421.
Weather permitting, the demolition should be complete in about six weeks, according to the housing department.
The expansive demolition is part of a larger plan to revitalize Johnston Square, according to the mayor's office.
The Lillian Jones Apartments, 74 affordable rental units, is currently under construction in the neighborhood, Mi Casa Inc. is planning to renovate 30 homes in the area and the Baltimore Design School is supposed to open next fall in the 1500 block of Barclay St.