Along Bellona Avenue this week signs objecting to the Sheppard Pratt mental health residential treatment home sprouted along the road. The signs direct readers to the website for Neighbors Against the Sheppard Pratt Hotel which has over 230 Facebook likes. While opposition is mounting, the hospital completed the sale last week and plans to go forward with opening the six-bedroom home on LaBelle Avenue. Like it or not, there is little residents can do: Sheppard Pratt’s proposal is protected by federal and state housing laws.
So what does $350,000 buy you in Baltimore? Well, it depends where you’re looking. We chose seven of our favorite neighborhoods and a $350,000 ballpark – a respectable, but not luxurious amount to play with. If a house is listed higher than $350,000, it means we think you could make an offer. The ‘Zestimate,’ as most of you will know, is the Zillow real estate website’s take on what a house is really worth. This is what we found:
Mt. Washington – median listing price: $295,000
Ahhh ….the charm of village life –cafes, bars, cute shops, Whole Foods, (a pottery studio!) — together with rolling hills and generous wooded lots. Mt. Washington has a lot of diversity for a high-end suburban-feeling neighborhood. Maybe it’s the super public school or maybe it’s the easy access to the light rail stop, but that diversity is a big selling point when it comes to raising a family. It takes a village…
5911 Bonnie View Drive, 21209
3,090 sq. ft.
.62 acre lot
Architectually intriguing with a ‘60’s vibe, a classic modernist house in the woods. 5 bedrooms and 3 baths, with custom cabinetry, built-ins, and shelving throughout. Wood burning fireplace, hardwood floors. Walls of glass overlook a private wooded (re:low maintenance) lot. Pretty cool. Near Mt. Washington Village.
Hampden – median listing price $169,600
Trendy Hampden, with its blue collar attitude and relatively inexpensive real estate, is a mecca for artists and hipsters. The kitschy storefronts on it’s bustling Avenue (36th Street) reflect this, but look a little closer and you’ll find some seriously good food, wine and fun shopping. This is Baltimore’s fastest-growing retail district. Your public elementary school here is five star Medfield, and it’s just minutes to Wyman and Druid Hill parks.
3669 Ash Street, 21211
Price: $205,000 (with $$$ to spare – this place could be a little dream home)
1,853 sq. ft.
.07 acre lot
Built in 1880
Lovely stone mill house with charm to spare, situated on a quiet hillside street. House has been completely renovated within the past 10 years and is technically in move-in condition, but has potential for much more. 3 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths. Large kitchen and master suite with attached full bath. Wood floors and tons of closet space, unusual for an older home. Downstairs mudroom. Walk over to the Avenue, or up to the light rail and Woodberry Kitchen.
Federal Hill — median listing price $325,600
‘Historically hip’ and ‘eternally stylish’ according to Baltimore Magazine’s Neighborhood Guide, Federal Hill has more history than you can shake a stick at, from the Hill to the Cross Street Market. Cobblestone streets and period homes are a visual treat, and so are views across the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill Park. There is a real neighborhood feeling here, with book clubs, dog walking groups and life-long residents. But there’s new energy and spark in the eclectic art and ongoing events at the American Visionary Art Museum and the culinary delights of Light Street. Federal Hill in 2011 is pure urban joy.
208 East Cross Street
1,285 sq. ft.
small courtyard garden
A Federal style attached row house, with a bright and sunny aspect, in historic Federal Hill. Three bedrooms and two baths over four stories, and a three level atrium. It’s the flood of light and generous room size that distinguishes this house, with landscaped courtyard, full basement with great storage and nice, updated features. Walk to downtown Baltimore, Orioles Park, light rail and MARC train to DC.
Patterson Park – median listing price $109,900
A little more gritty than Federal Hill, and way more ethnically diverse, Patterson Park is tucked between Canton and Johns Hopkins Hospital, a former landing-point for generations of Eastern European immigrants. But real-estate here is well priced, and the wide-open space of Patterson Park (155 acres in the heart of the city, with ice rink and swimming pool) is all yours. Patterson Park was recently included in Southern Living’s list of 10 Best Comeback Neighborhoods, and is home to several popular restaurants, including Salt.
8 Milton Avenue North, 21224
Zestimate: none available
1,960 sq. ft.
no lot: but Patterson Park is your front yard …
Right on the park, this 3 bedroom townhouse has 3 full baths and a deluxe master bedroom suite with balcony and views. A total recent rehab has left it still with plenty of charm, plus custom finishes, modern appliances, hardwood floors, granite countertops and finished family room. Maybe not a ‘forever’ house, but great for a young Hopkins doc.
Private parking, too.
Harbor East – median listing price $418,000
Harbor East is not a neighborhood in the traditional sense, but it is home to some of the best Baltimore has to offer. Centered around several luxurious waterfront condominiums, it’s all here — sushi and shoes, Charleston and Whole Foods, Landmark Cinema, South Moon Under and an ever-changing landscape of pop-up shops. For the young, or not-so-young Baltimore urban professional, this is as close as it gets to Manhattan.
250 President Street #602, 21202
1858 sq. ft.
Inner Harbor high-rise living, complete with the amenities of fitness center, indoor pool, parking and a 24 hour front desk. This 2 bedroom, 2 bath, open-plan condo has wood floors, a fireplace, granite countertops and modern kitchen, as well as storage room and a stunning balcony. 250 President Street is in the heart of the Harbor, Little Italy, Fells Point and all the excitement of the city.
Rodgers Forge – median listing price $210,000
Exactly 9.5 miles from the towers of the Inner Harbor, leafy Rodgers Forge might be the next stop for that now married-with-kids urban professional. On offer are great public schools, a communal children’s playground known as the Tot Lot, and the quiet, intergenerational aspect of a long-established neighborhood. There’s no fine dining in these parts, but the comforts of Bill Bateman’s, Chipotle and Panera await on nearby York Road. Real estate values here tend to climb slowly and steadily, and the houses’ solid curb appeal will convince your parents you’ve finally grown up.
416 Hopkins Road, 21212
2,310 sq. ft.
.05 acre lot
A well maintained Tudor-style townhouse with an impressive stone exterior, a nice brick patio in the back and a detached garage. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths, as well as a finished third floor. Your dad will say ‘they don’t build ‘em like this anymore’ noting the solid paneled doors, nice hardware and gleaming hardwood floors.. The windows have been recently replaced. Ditto the roof, and the kitchen has been nicely renovated – so you should be good for the next 50 years or so.
Bolton Hill – median listing price $298,700
Less historic, but more swank than the downtown city neighborhoods, Bolton Hill is rich in aesthetics — church steeples, marble staircases, huge trees – and stylish art students from nearby MICA. It’s a small collection of architectural gems, urban mansions and townhouses – very congenial, if a little short on street life. The expanding presence of MICA seems to be changing that, and there are a good handful of coffee and sandwich shops, but for now you still need a car to get your groceries. Five hundred dollars buys a resident membership in the Bolton Swim and Tennis Club, a huge draw for families with kids.
1615 Park Avenue #2, 21217
2,188 sq. ft.
Built in 1903
Huge! The condo takes up the entire second floor of one of Baltimore’s finest old turn-of-the-century mansions (think Mary Tyler Moore). This is living on a grand and elegant scale, with high ceilings and oversized windows that look out onto Park Avenue gardens and fountain. Hardwood floors, two wood-burning fireplaces (never mind how you get the wood up there) and deep ceiling moldings are some of the historic details. There’s a chef’s kitchen with a big granite island for nights when you can’t face the two minute walk to b bistro as well as 2 good size bedrooms and 2 full baths –all new and in top condition.
Hot House: 1201 Western Run Road, Cockeysville, 21030
19th century farmhouse, updated, with 61+ acres on the Western Run:
What: A circa 1800 stone house that sits at the top of a long driveway, winding through the woods and over a private bridge. The original two room structure has had several additions and a major expansion in 1994 by architect Walter Ramburg to get to its current incarnation — a rambling, three bedroom, three ½ bath home with state of the art appliances, heating and cooling systems. Large master suite on the second floor features a balcony overlooking the pool and gently rolling woods. Downstairs, a modern timbered kitchen (lots of wood trim here) and family room have similar views and an irresistibly cozy, dark, beam-ceilinged den with large Colonial fireplace and hand-hewn cupboards — the main room of the original farmhouse. Lovely wooded property features a 50’ pool as well as a 1850’s timber barn — built for cattle, but suitable for horses or renovation as a studio. Adjoining guesthouse has two bedrooms and a kitchen, ideal for visiting family or friends with children.
Where: Western Run Road – the lone old-fashioned charmer in a development of new mansions in the hills behind the Hunt Valley Mall.
Why: The woods, fields and mile of river frontage along the Western Run (a tributary of the Gunpowder River) are protected from development by the Maryland Environmental Trust, and a haven for native birds and wildlife.
Why Not: Long driveway and old trees give a rural impression, but over-scale neighboring properties are a little too close. Limited views of the beautiful countryside from the house.
Would Suit: bird -watching Wegmans shopper.
Hot House: 2217 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, 21153
Greenspring Punch — country manor house and estate, circa 1885, with 98 acres and gardens: $4,995,000
What: The Real Deal. English country house, in cream stucco, with major views, stables, barns and tenant houses in the heart of the Greenspring Valley. Owned since the 1920’s by several generations of the Baetjer family, this is a house you could lose your heart to. Stunning spiral staircase leads to an oval skylight, nine fireplaces, five, six or seven bedrooms (who can count?) , seven full baths, a servant’s wing (!) and every window has a view. Ancient trees, wonderful gardens, vistas, not another house in sight. Best of all ….”potential for horses, sheep, poultry and other”!
Where: Greenspring Valley Road – just five minutes from the shops at Greenspring Station and Rt.83– twenty minutes to downtown, but feels like you’re deep in horse country.
Why: Grand but not grandiose. Your friends will give you credit for more taste than you actually possess. Also, perfect place to channel the ghost of Harvey LaDew.
Why not: Don’t order the racehorses unless you’ve got another million or so to spend. It all needs updating. Kitchen, bathrooms, pool, systems, everything. Once that’s done, the house is a dream.
Would suit: George Washington, or similar.
HOT HOUSE: 435 Ginn Lane in Pasadena, Md.
At auction: a one-of-a kind modern glass house and 3.51 acres with total privacy and views of Magothy River near the Chesapeake Bay. Suggested opening price: $3.5 million. Sold to the highest bidder.
What: A beautiful, custom-designed glass house, built in 1997 for the late Leroy Merritt, developer and founder of Merritt Athletic Clubs. An initial listing price of $7.9 million attracted no offers, and the house is being auctioned off on June 3 by Merritt’s estate. With high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass, the river views are spectacular from every room. At the top on the house is an observatory with 225 degree views. Sleek design and multiple levels of open living offer modern aesthetic appeal in a four-story, four bedroom home with four full and two half baths. Sunken living room and marble floors. The grounds include a lovely pool, putting green, volleyball court and caretaker’s cottage. Private, waterfront land has a deep water pier with multiple boat slips and your own beach. This house was recently a Wall Street Journal “House of the Day.”
Where: A small rise on a private peninsula overlooking the Magothy River, Broad Creek and Sillery Bay. Pasadena, pop. 12,000, is on the western shore of the Chesapeake, near both Annapolis and Severna Park, about forty minutes from Baltimore.
Why: A good chance to redecorate–even your mother-in-law will realize that her Victorian sofa won’t work here. Seriously, stunning views of sky and water puts the world in a different perspective.
Why Not: Visitors will be almost pathologically unable to resist comic observations about people who live in glass houses…
Would suit: Water-loving millionaire with no urge to throw stones.
Hot House: 6400 Old Harford Road, Baltimore 21214
Sweet farmhouse Victorian in the young and trendy neighborhood of Lauraville/Hamilton: $225,000
What: Sunny, charming and recently updated, this three bedroom, two-bath Victorian was built in 1920, when Hamilton was a making the transition from farmland to suburbs. After years of decline from its working class roots, Hamilton is now one of the city’s great comeback neighborhoods, ethnically diverse and authentically Baltimore. Restaurants, art galleries, yoga centers, natural food and nightlife abound (checkout the Hamilton/Lauraville Main Street blogspot). And 6400 Old Harford Road is an easy walk to everything. The house features 9 foot ceilings, big windows, crown moldings and a wraparound porch. At 2,902 square feet and .3 acres, it’s one of the largest houses around–you’ll be the envy of the neighbors, always a plus, and the large attic gives you potential for an easy 6 bedrooms. Updated kitchen with breakfast nook, modern baths, new siding in’06, new roof in ’08.
Where: Hamilton/Lauraville is in the northwest corner of Baltimore City, bisected by Harford Road, and west of Northern Parkway. 10 minutes to Herring Run Park .
Why: young community, a real house in an up-and -coming hood with fun shops and great restaurants–walk to Hamilton Street Tavern!
Why not: Great public schools? Not so much. Young families will need to check it out.
Would suit: yoga teacher, college professor, hipsters with a heart.
One Overlook Lane comes in the form of a well-designed time capsule (even the address sounds swell). It is very mid-century, very California-modern, and seemingly unaltered by passing fancies. What a tragedy it would have been had this gem fallen victim to an ’80s mauve moment. Check the built-in lounge/fireplace areas: see yourself in repose, reading Tropic of Cancer, while twirling a cocktail from the Lucite bar cart. Originally designed and built for James Rouse in 1961, the home is still owned by his first wife Elizabeth who is selling. Is some of the furniture original and could it be part of the deal? (I call the blue chair in the living room!) Located just off Lake Avenue in Baltimore County it is currently listed at $1,550,000. For that price the 2.75 acres, 5 bedrooms, tennis court and pool are included. Sure, a mind-blowingly expensive period-faithful renovation is needed, but this place inspires you to make jello molds while smoking and what could be better than that?
Art at home inspires us. It doesn’t have to be a Picasso or a Warhol. A well-framed child’s drawing or a memorable family photograph can be just as inspiring as those works deemed “correct” by art snobs. In our view, interior design should always start with art. It is so much easier to decorate a room around a bold, meaningful painting, than to find a matchy painting to respond to a carefully furnished room (cue the disappointing results).
Case in point: The contemporary painting above features large brush strokes of indigo and other striking colors. It feels modern. The rest of the room mixes mid-century furniture, a custom George Smith sofa and sporting paintings of foxes and horses. The furnishings are traditional, the art is not, but together they work it out. There is no algorithm to pairing art and interior design. The only equation is to make them a pair and make sure you personally care about the details, that you feel comforted or excited or challenged by them, whichever you’re going for.