The Madison Park North housing and commercial development represents a $100 million investment that will provide “a new gateway for West Baltimore,” according to civic leaders who gathered Thursday to break ground for the project.
Mayor Brandon Scott and developer P. David Bramble led an event that marked the official start of construction on an eight-acre site along North Avenue, between Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill.
The first phase will bring 120 market-rate townhouses by Ryan Homes, with prices starting around $350,000. Later phases will include apartments and commercial space, including a grocery store. Completion of all phases is expected by 2025.
The land is a former public housing community along a three-block stretch of North Avenue between Park Avenue and Eutaw Place. The area was once dubbed “Murder Mall” because of criminal activity there.
Thursday’s groundbreaking event brought together more than 100 people representing different mayoral eras and administrations, from former HUD director Mary Ann Henderson and longtime city forester Calvin Buikema to former Baltimore Development Corporation president William H. “Bill” Cole IV and current city housing commissioner Alice Kennedy.
Under a tent on the construction site, speakers shared stories about how long the project has been in the works and what it will mean to the surrounding area and city. The development team includes Bramble’s MCB Real Estate, Mark Renbaum’s MLR Partners, and Kevin McAndrews’ Atapco Properties.
“Anyone who knows me will know that this is one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Bramble, who grew up and lives near the construction site.
“Today we are about to start a transformative project which will create a new gateway for West Baltimore and is proof positive that Baltimore’s neighborhoods have their best days ahead of them,” he said. “This is a monumental achievement. I mean this is eight years in the making, and we look forward to much more to come.”
“We are talking about over $100 million being invested in the west side of Baltimore,” Scott said. “And those of us who are from Baltimore, specifically those of us from West Baltimore, know how big of deal this is. To be honest, this is a Joe Biden BFD.”
The area’s troubled history is no secret, the mayor said.
“We all know what was here before and what people who lived here or visited here had to experience and live through.”
But the proposed development shows what can be done to improve the city and the North Avenue corridor, which he called Baltimore’s “most crucial East-West connector.”
Madison Park North “really embodies what is possible in Baltimore,” Scott said. “It’s our brightest future ahead of us.”
City Council member James Torrence noted that the area already has assets, such as a refurbished recreation center and the new Dorothy I. Height Elementary School at 2011 Linden Ave., and he said Madison Park North will build on them.
“This is an investment in a neighborhood that has resources,” he said to Bramble. “You’re closing the gap with your investment…. You’re adding more value, and you’re investing where people are in need of investment.”
Maryland State Sen. Antonio Hayes said Madison Park North will help bring attention to the assets West Baltimore already has, including two public libraries, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Coppin State University.
“This is the gateway to a new West Baltimore and a new West North Avenue,” he said.
Bramble said his company owns “millions and millions” of square feet of commercial real estate around the country, but Madison Park North is especially meaningful to him because he was raised in Madison Park and can remember the way it used to be.
“I know what this was. I lived it. This is personal for me,” he said. “I can’t describe the feeling that I have as I see this site’s wonderful future about to unfold and what it means for all of us here in West Baltimore. It’s so meaningful to be doing this work right here in my own neighborhood.”