Baltimore - Upton / Marble Hill Neighborhood

6 Replies

Does anyone have any experience with Baltimore's Upton / Marble Hill? I spent yesterday walking through the inventory and am having a hard time getting a feeling for the neighborhood. It boarders Heritage Crossing (2002 development) which is a plus but that neighborhood is tied in with the McCulloh Homes project.

Many of the homes on McCulloh Street and Druid Hill Ave are boarded up or vacant but people have been preaching this area as being the next up-and-coming area for years. I see the occasional $100k+ reno in it's past but most of the comps are essentially shells.

Does this area have any potential or is it just another urban wasteland?

Marble Hill is an interesting area.  It's not too far from Bolton Hill which is a fantastic thriving neighborhood.  The housing stock in Marble Hill offers potential (size, character, multi-unit potential) that you can't get in other neighborhoods with smaller 2 bedroom homes.  I think if the area was on your radar, you could find a decent investment property there.  

As Baltimore City varies block by block, spend time in the neighborhood and do your research.  

Thanks @Mark Moyer . I ended up scratching that area from my list. After additional analysis the costs to renovate these properties are cost prohibitive given the shallow value ceiling and lack of quality renters or buyers. Yes, what can make Baltimore so unforgiving is that siren song of an A-class neighborhood like Bolton Hill being so close to a war zone like Marble Hill.

yes @Jeffrey Miller I think that sentiment is what holds many neighborhoods from making a comeback.  Many of the homes in West Baltimore are huge and the costs to renovate them just don't justify the area.  If you could take that same giant house in West Baltimore and put it in Federal Hill where there's mostly small 2 bedroom places it would be a much desired home!  

But alas, it's hard to make the numbers make sense.  

Would have to agree with both @Jeffrey Miller and @Mark Moyer

Our company looked at a Vacant 2 Value home on one of the most promising streets in Marble Hill - Druid Hill Ave, which was once a thriving Afro-American neighborhood with leaders from the Civil Rights movement in Baltimore living right on this street. It is one block from AME Church, which is one of the most prosperous and well attended churches in Baltimore City's African American community. 

Walking around the neighborhood there were evidences of constructions projects - stainless steel fencing around construction lots, new electric service in some commercial properties, and it is only one block off of Eutaw, which is a thriving Bolton Hill street. We couldn't make it work though. The home was too big and to do it properly would have required atleast $150K in renovation costs (because of its square footage) and there were no comps to support an investment like this. Keep in mind too, this was also with a purchase price of ~10K, which is about as cheap as you'll find for a home, meaning we had a very low basis.

Additionally, it looks like there are a number of commercial properties that are vacant, which is not a great sign. These are the important players in a neighborhood transformation. Without these tenants holding down key corners, having residential properties in between is difficult, as you need these tenants to make the neighborhood transformation complete. 

Also drive one block further west of Druid Hill Ave, the opposite direction of Eutaw, and there is the road parallel is basically all vacant homes.

@Sam Frank were you able to tour the V2V home or were you estimating renovation costs from the outside and by square footage?

@Brad Cogswell we were able to tour the V2V. There are ways to do this, by reaching out to the V2V program and getting a right to enter piece of paperwork. Basically, you pay a small fee and you then have access to enter a fixed amount of properties listed on the V2V database. Sometimes there is a key you pick up, other times you will want to bring a drill to pop off the plywood boards on the front of the homes (pretty fun stuff..urban exploration at its finest).

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