Hot House: 1522 Hollins Street, Union Square, Baltimore, 21223
Victorian townhouse, brick exterior, circa 1860. 2,804 sq. ft. over three stories. R-9 zoned for two apartments, both currently occupied. Three bedrooms, 3 full baths. Hardwood floors throughout, 9 foot ceilings, original wood trim, fireplace mantels, many architectural features, central a/c. Unfinished basement, fully fenced back garden. Additional two-story, 13 x 29 foot carriage house in rear, with full bath: $274,900
What: A roll of the dice. You could buy this place for the asking price, collect rent while you renovate, and sell it for a million dollars as Union Square becomes the next Harbor East. Or, you could buy this place, find it needs a new roof (completely hypothetical) and lose it all as Union Square becomes the next Sandtown-Winchester. But things are looking up here on Hollins Street, and with the UMD Bio Park having crossed Martin Luther King Boulevard, there seem like real reasons to BELIEVE . Number 1522 is in good condition inside, although work on the carriage house is not quite finished. It’s wider than many town homes — always a plus. It’s been renovated inexpensively, obviously with a view to renting. You could live here and rent one apartment, live in the carriage house and continue to rent both apartments, or turn the place back into a single family home.
Where: Union Square is a beautiful old square, with a lovely 2.5 acre park at its center. It was built in the 1840s as one of Baltimore’s first speculative developments. H.L. Menken lived in the house next door to 1522 for nearly his entire life, and it is now the H.L. Menken House – a minor attraction, no busloads of tourists pulling up at your door. Union Square has a popular Christmas cookie tour, a SoWeBo arts festival, and a wealth of fascinating, eccentric residents — it is a close knit and welcoming community with a nice website. Other nearby attractions are Camden Yards and Ravens Stadium, B&O Railroad Museum, Edgar Allen Poe House, the Babe Ruth Museum, the Lithuanian Hall and the new Horseshoe Casino. A few blocks east is Hollins Market, the oldest Baltimore Market still open. The Enoch Pratt Free Library No. 2 is just down the street. Zellas Pizzeria, next to Hollins Market, is wildly popular and occasional winner of the hotly contested Best Pizza in Baltimore. But make no mistake, you will definitely see some action here. There’s drug dealing in the park, “occasional prostitution,” and more. Safe during the day, but you’ll want to keep your guard up in the streets around the square. Online comments include “safer than Bolton Hill and Federal Hill,” “people love living here,” and also “it has rough edges.” Go have a look.
Why: Renters make it economically desirable. Great access to D.C.
Why Not: Union Square is an oasis surrounded on three sides by a desert. Occasionally nomads will wander in and drink (or whatever) from your spring.
Would Suit: Adults with a bit of mental toughness (not post-college, first-time city dwellers), who have already mastered city living elsewhere.
NB: Union Square starred in the 1997 movie version of the Henry James novel Washington Square with Albert Finney and Maggie Smith.
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