Looking Through the Lens at East Baltimore’s Progress

Posted February 20, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog lookingthroughthelenseastbaltimore1 2013

Tim Par­rish sur­veys the East Bal­ti­more land­scape, where heavy equip­ment plunges into the earth, dump trucks clear the land, and new homes, office build­ings and businesses 
are defin­ing neigh­bor­hood transformation. 

By me grow­ing up in East Bal­ti­more, I know a lot of the his­to­ry and where this neigh­bor­hood has come from,” says Par­rish, chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Unlim­it­ed Truck­ing, whose fleet of vehi­cles is help­ing to dri­ve progress. If you look now, I see the poten­tial. I’m buy­ing into it, and I’m try­ing to be part of it.”

Par­rish points to a con­struc­tion truck parked between two just like it. That guy dri­ving that truck over there, he lives next to my par­ents in East Bal­ti­more, so to see peo­ple get involved who nor­mal­ly aren’t involved in a project is a good thing.”

He walks along a con­struc­tion site and points out anoth­er dri­ver — also an East Bal­ti­more native. And then he points to anoth­er dri­ver, yet anoth­er home­grown work­er. If you look around here, East Bal­ti­more is well rep­re­sent­ed on the job site,” he says.

Par­rish is speak­ing into a video cam­era as he guides vis­i­tors through this com­mu­ni­ty in the shad­ows of the Johns Hop­kins Insti­tu­tions where he grew up — and which he is help­ing to rebuild. His tour is one of sev­er­al online videos that are part of a series called The Real East Bal­ti­more,” filmed by East Bal­ti­more Devel­op­ment Inc. to high­light progress on the path toward respon­si­ble redevelopment.

The videos escort view­ers on a vir­tu­al tour of bustling con­struc­tion sites, green and healthy homes, job fairs, employ­ment train­ing, a school rib­bon-cut­ting and oth­er images that evoke steady improve­ments in the local land­scape. The voic­es of peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in these efforts also sig­nal a revival of res­i­dent engage­ment and enthu­si­asm in a com­mu­ni­ty that enjoyed a glo­ri­ous era until a series of set­backs in the last few decades of the 20th cen­tu­ry sent it spi­ral­ing into decline.

Betty Carlos with Corey Dyson

East Bal­ti­more Devel­op­ment Inc. (EDBI) was estab­lished in 2003 to reverse this trend and trans­form 88 acres, mar­shal­ing $1.8 bil­lion in new invest­ments to devel­op a thriv­ing mixed-use com­mu­ni­ty for fam­i­lies of all income lev­els to live, work and grow. The project has brought togeth­er the city of Bal­ti­more, state of Mary­land, the Johns Hop­kins Insti­tu­tions, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, res­i­dents, many local busi­ness­es, phil­an­thropies and oth­er inter­ests.

EBDI rep­re­sents the Casey Foundation’s largest invest­ment in Bal­ti­more, one of two cities, along with Atlanta, that the Foun­da­tion calls civic sites. In addi­tion to devel­op­ing new hous­ing, busi­ness and job oppor­tu­ni­ties, EBDI is paving the way to help chil­dren in this com­mu­ni­ty pre­pare for suc­cess through con­struc­tion of a new $43 mil­lion 90,000-squarefoot ele­men­tary school and 28,000-square-foot ear­ly child­hood cen­ter, which togeth­er will serve 720 children.

The new Hen­der­son-Hop­kins school will replace the East Bal­ti­more Com­mu­ni­ty School, now housed in tem­po­rary quar­ters on North Wolfe Street. The Hen­der­son-Hop­kins school and the new Har­ry and Jeanette Wein­berg Ear­ly Child­hood Cen­ter, expect­ed to open in August 2013, will be oper­at­ed by the Johns Hop­kins School of Edu­ca­tion in part­ner­ship with Mor­gan State University’s School of Edu­ca­tion and Urban Stud­ies. The com­plex will serve as a hub for com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment, offer­ing wide-rang­ing activ­i­ties and ser­vices for chil­dren, fam­i­lies and res­i­dents in col­lab­o­ra­tion with many local institutions.

In one video, life­long East Bal­ti­more res­i­dent Bet­ty Car­los rem­i­nisced about a K–2 school that opened 40 years ago where the East Bal­ti­more Com­mu­ni­ty School’s kinder­garten is now housed.

I’m so glad to see all the won­der­ful things going on here,” she said. I’m excit­ed about the new hous­es and so excit­ed about the new school, and I’m so over­whelmed because my
babies came here and my grand­chil­dren and the neigh­bor­hood children.”

Trans­form­ing Lives

In the Real East Bal­ti­more” videos, sto­ries like this show how changes in the com­mu­ni­ty are alter­ing the life tra­jec­to­ries of res­i­dents as well. 

There’s the sto­ry of a for­mer prison guard who went into social ser­vices to pre­vent res­i­dents in his com­mu­ni­ty from get­ting involved in crim­i­nal activ­i­ty. Now, as I help indi­vid­u­als gain employ­ment and oth­er ser­vice needs, it gives me great joy in the com­mu­ni­ty in which I come from,” says Dar­ryl Alford.

Tim­o­thy Veal, a for­mer drug deal­er, describes how he turned his life around and got help from EBDI in get­ting a job, a high school degree, a driver’s license and even buy­ing a home. He grad­u­al­ly worked his way up to a super­vi­so­ry posi­tion as envi­ron­men­tal ser­vices crew chief.

In anoth­er video, Edward Williams, an East Bal­ti­more res­i­dent who grew up on Chase Street 60 years ago, guides vis­i­tors though the neighborhood’s his­to­ry. This was a love­ly place; it was just beau­ti­ful,” says Williams. He describes the highs and lows of life in East Bal­ti­more, and then points to the Ash­land Com­mons Apart­ments with its 78 mixed-income units, the Park View at Ash­land Ter­race with 74 mixed-income units for seniors and the Chapel Green Apartments.

Res­i­dents have moved back into here,” he says, tak­ing spe­cial note of mar­ble steps that have defined the sec­tion East Bal­ti­more called Mid­dle East. This was once torn down. Now you see the progress we have made.”

Besides pro­vid­ing busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties for entre­pre­neurs such as Par­rish, the project has attract­ed African-Amer­i­can-owned busi­ness­es such as the Verde Group and Kayden
Enter­pris­es, which have demon­strat­ed a com­mit­ment to hir­ing minori­ties, espe­cial­ly neigh­bor­hood residents. 

Eco­nom­ic inclu­sion and work­force devel­op­ment are a top pri­or­i­ty,” Cheryl Wash­ing­ton, senior direc­tor of human and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices, says in anoth­er video. EBDI projects have a con­trac­tu­al require­ment for res­i­dents and for minor­i­ty- and women-owned busi­ness­es to get first pri­or­i­ty for con­tract­ing opportunities.

The project is attract­ing African-Amer­i­can entre­pre­neurs such as Mon­del Pow­ell, anoth­er believ­er in the renais­sance. Plan­ning for an open­ing of his restau­rant, Tea­v­olve, in the John G. Ran­gos Sr. Build­ing on North Wolfe Street, between Madi­son Street and Ash­land Avenue, Pow­ell says in an inter­view with Casey Con­nects, I love see­ing the cranes in the air.”

The new Johns Hop­kins grad­u­ate stu­dent hous­ing is across the street in the next block, and just down the street a health lab is under­way,” he adds. There is a new park­ing garage for 1,200 cars, and next year, a 300-bed hotel will go up across the street from us. And when every­thing is done, this will be a vibrant community.” 

View the Real East Bal­ti­more” video series

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