The Cherry Hill neighborhood lies to the southernmost portion of Baltimore, Maryland. Middle Branch encloses the enclave within the city to the north, the West Patapsco Avenue to the south, the Cherry Hill Park to the east and Route 295 to the west. Baltimore’s light rail system and railroad trucks also run to the west and to the south. To the east lies the Patapsco River’s main channel.
Location of Cherry Hill, Baltimore
The history of housing in Cherry Hill dates back from the time it was used as home for African- American veterans returning from World War II. In the early through the mid 20th Century Baltimore City was booming in economic growth due to the railroads, mining, defense spending, waterways and industrial activity. These resulted in housing shortages. In 1945, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), along with the United States War Housing Administration, constructed 600 housing units for African American War workers (Cherry Hill Master Plan, 2008). These units were later converted into low-income housing (Cherry Hill Master Plan, 2008). The low-income public housing kept expanding to over 1713 units over the years. Cherry Hill is the largest public housing development in the city. Poverty also increased along with housing expansion in the area.
Cherry Hill Homes
Now African Americans (98%) are the major population in the community, compared to 64% in the city. There is a total population of approximately 7681 with a median income of less than $20,000. Vacant homes account to 8 % (14% in the city) and comprise a household size of 2.62, much greater compared to Baltimore city and the county. Due to the large number of public housing in Cherry Hill, the median rent is 442, comparatively lower than the city and the county (U.S. Census, 2000).
Public Housing and Private Ownership
The Baltimore City adopted Live Earn Play Learn Comprehensive Master Plan in 2006. “LIVE creates the Plan that will guide Baltimore as it re-adjusts its residential land use to account for changing population, regional growth and demographic changes, the need for affordable housing, and the aging housing stock ” (Cherry Hill Community Conference Report, 2009). The Cherry Hill neighborhood saw a fleeting glimpse of the revitalization process over the years. During 1990s, 193 units were demolished and modern new 1520 affordable homes were built. Federal housing officials awarded a $392,000 grant to a non-profit housing group to build 28 townhouses (Baltimore Sun, 1990).
Some of the notable improvements are the revitalization of Cherry Hill Town Center, Cherry Hill Park, Middle Branch Park, Reedbird Park, youth recreation center, 2 aquatic centers, a light rail stop, 2 medical centers, Harbor Hospital and an 8,000 SF branch of an Enoch Pratt Library. In 2006, there was a fallback of another 126 housing units leaving a total of 1,394 units (Cherry Hill Master Plan, 2008). Though the area didn’t attract big grocery stores like Super Fresh and Giant, in 2002, a $50,000 grant was awarded to Hilltop supermarket to open in the community (The Baltimore Sun, 2002). In 2011, a $45,000 federal grant was awarded to grow several new community gardens (The Baltimore Sun, 2011).
The housing market saw a downturn in 2007 similar to Baltimore City and the overall U.S housing trend. In 2010, the number of foreclosed homes started creeping back up with a total of 4 homes actively under foreclosure process.
Housing Market activity since 2001 in Cherry Hill
Home Median Prices and Average asking prices since 2001, Cherry Hill
As indicated in the graph, from 2001 to 2007, the asking prices were higher than the median price range. Rates were being offered under the expectations of the homeowners in contrary to the Washington- Baltimore housing market where asking prices were equal to or lower than the selling prices.
The existing housing styles in the community are
Garage Duplex Homes and
Different housing styles currently existing in Cherry hill
Source: Pictures taken by Selvakumar, Josephine and Gymfi, Paul
All the private houses of the community are found to the north edge near the water view and to the north of the Cherry Hill road. The different private housing categories are the detached homes, town homes, apartments and row homes. Almost all the private homes, (highlighted in purple in map), are bounded between the Water View Avenue, Cherry Hill Road and the Reedbird Avenue. All the public houses are situated to the south edge of the community. The houses to the south of the Cherry Hill Road (highlighted yellow in map) are the public houses of the neighborhood.
Public – Private Housing in Cherry Hill
Locations of Stable and Distressed housing in Cherry Hill
The neighborhood also lacks green and usable open spaces. The community did not take advantage of the existing assets. There is no significant development around the light rail and near the waterfront. There is no growth to take advantage of abundant water resources. The community also lacks common gathering place for people to meet and feel the sense of the place. There is no identity in the neighborhood to bring out the distinguished character of the place to realize the history of the community. With only two entrances to Cherry Hill, the West View Drive and Hanover Road, ingress and egress to the area is difficult which also isolates it from Baltimore City and the County.
Though the area has a rich historical heritage and a huge coastline of the Chesapeake Bay, it didn’t face a prospective growth. In spite of development pressure near the waterfront for upscale apartments, condominiums and retail spaces, nothing really happened. This water resource is still being underutilized in terms of real property investment. Moreover, the land estimated to be around 85 acres in the industrial part of Cherry Hill to the East of Cherry Hill Road and to the south of Water View Avenue has very few industrial activities and is also deficient of creating any job opportunities for the residents. In 2004, the City of Baltimore approved plans for the Water view Overlook project with town homes and condominiums on the parcel of land on Water view Avenue between Westport and Cherry Hill. But the construction never began. In 2011, the 8.8 parcel of land on Water view Avenue was sold for $715,000 to a bidder representing 6601 Suitland Road LLC. for residential use (The Baltimore Sun, 2011).
There is no proper linkage between Cherry Hill and Westport proposed development. New developments can certainly take advantage of transportation network- light rail, Route 295, I-95, I-695 Cherry Hill Road. Inner Harbor, Baltimore is a renowned and successful waterfront development and tourist destination. If there is any successful development in the Cherry Hill waterfront, thoughts could also be given to connect it with the Inner Harbor through water taxis. It will be an interesting way to lure people in and around Inner Harbor to Cherry Hill.
Though Cherry Hill emerged as a working class neighborhood in 1945, the racial housing obstacles and suburbanization pushed the working class group outside the community. In spite of the strengths and available assets in the area, it failed to attract commercial, real estate and retail investments. It isn’t successful in attracting workforce housing. When will people stop associating Cherry Hill just to public housing? Will developers and investors show interest in strengthening the community?
Cherry Hill Community Conference Report, 2009
Cherry Hill Master Plan, July 2008
U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD.Gov
Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS), 2010
Gateway Community Development Corporation
(Accessed Jan 2012)
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