Mayor Rawlings-Blake Kicks-Off Revitalization Efforts in Johnston Square

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Brandon M. Scott
Baltimore City
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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Mi Casa Inc. kicked off the revitalization of the Johnston Square Community today on the 800 Block of E. Preston St. Mi Casa Inc., a non-profit provider of affordable housing opportunities, in partnership with Baltimore Housing will develop more than 40 units of affordable housing in the 700-800 blocks of E. Preston Street using $5 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 Funds awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The neighborhood, in close proximity to downtown, has an extremely high percentage of vacant houses and an active community association that has worked with the City in establishing goals to revitalize its housing and increase affordable home-ownership opportunities. The revitalization will also create construction jobs for local and minority contractors.

“This is another great example of Vacants to Value at work in Baltimore,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Some may question an investment in this long suffering community, but the truth is success in Johnston Square benefits the entire city.”

Johnston Square is part of a larger transformation that is taking place over a broad swath of the Central City beginning in EBDI and continuing to Barclay. The development strategy for Johnston Square is built from a strong base of existing assets including: existing concentrations of homeownership, prominent green and open spaces, St. Frances Academy, and nearby redevelopment activities including Barclay, Oliver/Preston Place, and City Arts.

“This is a great day for the long standing residents of Johnston Square,” said Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano. “This is another example of how a community can transform its condition when we all work together.”

In addition Mi Casa’s Inc.’s work in Johnston Square, the community will benefit from the forthcoming $16 million Lillian Jones Apartments, a 74 unit green apartment building in the 1300 block of Greenmount Avenue. The Housing Authority of Baltimore City is also using President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds to rehabilitate approximately 37 scattered site properties throughout Johnston Square. Baltimore Housing is also pursuing acquisition of additional vacant buildings for rehabilitation to support the Authority’s plans and Mi Casa’s efforts, and is pursuing assembling additional development parcels in the area between Preston and Hoffman Streets and between Greenmount Avenue and Ensor Streets due it their blighted condition.

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