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Baltimore projects celebrate milestones in riots’ shadow


Chickie Grayson, president and CEO of Enterprise Homes, speaks at the groundbreaking for Metro Heights at Mondawmin. (Adam Bednar)

On back-to-back days, two very different multifamily developments impacted by the riots in Baltimore more than two years ago celebrated milestones.

On Tuesday evening, The Bozzuto Group, War Horse Cities and Solstice Partners, celebrated the opening of the $100 million Anthem House in Locust Point. The luxury apartment building with 292 units overlooks the Harbor and features amenities, such as a 20,000-square-foot private park on the fourth floor, roughly 20,000 square feet of retail space and a 6,600-square-foot fitness studio.

During the event, Anthem House’s developers touted the project as a benchmark for their companies, and a project that will hopefully stand the test of time in the city. But they also recalled the building’s groundbreaking being delayed as a result of the riots that tore through the city in April 2015 following the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died from injuries suffered in police custody.

The groundbreaking was rescheduled several weeks later, and Thomas Bozzuto, chairman of Greenbelt-based Bozzuto Group, used that event to reaffirm his company’s commitment to the city in face of the violence. “But this is not a time to turn our backs on this great city,” he said at that time. “It is, if anything, a time to stand up even taller and say, ‘I’m a Baltimorean and I love this place.’”

During his remarks at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Bozzuto recalled that “some questioned the timing of this building and its wisdom.” But he said his company’s belief in the city allowed it to block out the naysayers and pursue the building.

“It is the love of its citizens that makes cities truly great,” Bozzuto said from the building’s third-floor pool deck overlooking the new skylines emerging from Harbor East and Harbor Point.

In west Baltimore on Wednesday morning, nonprofit Enterprise Homes Inc. celebrated the groundbreaking of Metro Heights at Mondawmin at the intersection of Reisterstown Road and Liberty Heights Avenue.

The four-story building will provide 70 affordable units with a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments. Amenities include washer/dryer in the units, a fitness room and a club room on the building’s top floor.

The building is located across Liberty Heights Avenue from the Mondawmin Mall and the metro stop, a major mass transit hub in the city and within walking distance of Druid Hill Park. The mixed-income building will provide 11 units for low-income residents and an additional seven for chronically homeless families.

Metro Heights at Mondawmin will be located on an elevated parcel of land with a view of the downtown skyline that was formerly occupied by blighted vacant rowhomes. It’s also the site of where the riots in 2015 touched off after mass transit was shutdown leading to a running battle between school children and Baltimore police that spiraled into riots that spread throughout the city.

Rev. Franklin Lance, pastor at the nearby Mount Lebanon Baptists Church, helped advocate for the development of the parcel, and portrayed the project as a start to repairing a community that has struggled. He said that in two years this space has transformed from a reminder of the despair and struggle to a sign for a more hopeful future.

“The building will be a diving harbinger of renewal happening in this city, and this community,” Lance said in his remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony.

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