On February 17, 2021 CREWBaltimore in partnership with ULI Baltimore, and sponsored by Gordon Feinblatt, co-hosted the first Baltimore Neighborhood Series featuring Park Heights. Moderated by Bryce Turner, President, BCT Design Group. Speakers included Yolanda Jiggetts, Executive Director, Park Heights Renaissance; Martha Nathanson, VP of Govt Relations & Community Development, Lifebridge Health; Kelly Baccala, Neighborhood Development Officer, City of Baltimore; Richie Francis a.k.a. “Farmer Chippy”, Urban Farmer, Plantation Park Heights Farm; and Dana Henson, Vice President, The Henson Development Company Inc. The Park Heights project is the largest urban renewal project in Maryland which affects 30,000 residents, 50 business and 40 faith based institutions. This is currently a 60 acre project of which 17 acres have been awarded.
Hinson Development intends to develop large scale multifamily, single family and senior housing over two phases. They see tremendous upside for apt rentals in the future and want to make the community one of mixed income and mixed use. Community involvement is a key component of this project – this isn’t about bricks and sticks, it is about the residents as stakeholders.
Another key element is sustainability which leads us to Farmer Chippy. The organizer of #agrihoodbaltimore, Farmer Chippy works with schools and young people to learn how to grow food, and in 2019 they joined the Baltimore Farm Alliance and Farm Bureau. During the pandemic, this organization was responsible for delivering 6,300 boxes of food to families in in underserved communities. That equates to 13,500 pounds of food grown in Park Heights alone. The future for this urban farm will center around Park Heights operations and will be adding 132 sf of newly raised beds, hope houses and shipping containers.
Lifebridge is anchored in community and employees engaged in doing work in the community. Their focus is also expanding to issues of violence intervention, housing for the homeless and education. Part of the education initiatives include scholarships for community residents and school partnerships. Live near your work benefit. Stabilization just as important, and they want their workers for feel safe living in the same community that they serve.
Park Heights is a hidden jewel in Baltimore that those that live there want the rest of the city to experience. With partnerships and coalitions forming among developers, health care systems and grass roots organizations, this urban renewal project promises to lead future projects with a holistic approach to community, business and education.