What’s happening on Blythewood Road?

First, developer Arsh Mirmiran of Caves Valley Partners buys the ugliest house on the street for $650,000 and tears it down, presumably to make way for something better.

Then yesterday there was an explosion at developer Scott Plank’s house, the one he expanded greatly over the past year. The blast reportedly could be heard from several houses away.

“Just after 11:20 this morning, units responded to 16 Blythewood Road for a small explosion,” fire department public information officer Blair Adams told The Baltimore Sun. “Upon arrival, units [found] what appeared to be a propane tank that exploded in the rear of the dwelling. One person was transported with burns to an area hospital to receive treatment.”

The Baltimore Brew reported that more than 50 people and 12 pieces of apparatus were called to the scene, including fire trucks and police cars, and that Plank wasn’t even in town. The road was blocked off for hours. TV helicopters filmed the scene from above, showing how the explosion tore a hole in a service building on the grounds and scattered debris all over the owner’s tennis court.

Plank’s house backs up to the former Boumi Temple site, which now contains the fitness center of Loyola University Maryland.

The explosion provided a reminder that new owners are moving onto Blythewood Road, long considered one of the most impressive streets in the city, with some of the most expensive houses. With Mirmiran and Plank, it seems to be turning into a new Developer’s Row, which isn’t a bad thing. Plank opted to build a large home in the city, while his brother Kevin builds a large home in Baltimore County.

It’s an encouraging sign that homeowners are investing in Baltimore. The aerial shots of Plank’s tennis court and swimming pool looked impressive. But if there are any more explosions, neighbors will be longing for the quieter days on the street when tennis racket mogul Howard Head, philanthropist Dorothy Mears Ward, and former police commissioner Thomas Frazier lived there. Local personalities Molly and Mayo Shattuck once lived on the street, too.

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.