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‘It could’ve been prevented': Vacant city-owned building in Harlem Park collapses

Posted at 10:30 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 23:14:59-04

BALTIMORE — An emergency demolition was ordered by the city following the collapse of a vacant city-owned building Tuesday.

According to neighbors the collapse of 1522 W. Lanvale Street happened Saturday around 11 a.m. 

Video from Saturday taken by Charleston Walter shows dust a debris shortly after the collapse.  

“This is what we’re dealing with,” Walter said. 

An emergency demolition was ordered by the city

No one was hurt in the collapse, but a community garden was destroyed. 

On Tuesday, demolition crews were out tearing down three vacant homes including 1522. 

“I’ve heard stories of this happening, but this is my first one,” Walter said. “I’m really shaken up when it comes to this building falling down.” 

Charleston lives four doors down in a rehabbed home with his brother Anthony Francis.  

“We thought it was an earthquake,” Francis said. “That, or maybe an 18-wheeler turned over.

The brothers, along with community members in Harlem Park, told WMAR-2 News they’ve warned the city about the structure’s stability in the past, but nothing was done.

“If we can see the problem, I’m pretty sure the city can see this problem and they have the power to get something done,” Walter said.

“It could’ve been prevented if issues would’ve been taken to stabilize the building,” said Robert Allen Jr., a community activist. 

“We stood in this same exact spot with city officials telling them the building needed to be stabilized,” Francis said. “They said it didn’t need to be.”

City records show Baltimore bought the property back in 2008 for $7 and according to the Department of Housing and Community Development it has been open for bids.

“I tell you, I’ve been trying to see who we can talk to to get that building or do something or even just short of the side of the building up,” Walter said. 

To beautify what was left of their block, the brothers, along with community members, turned two open lots into gardens of green space, including an area right next to what is now a pile of debris.
“It started with one or two rocks falling,” said Walter. “A brick falling here and we’re clearing it out. The day before we were sitting there looking at it and said, ‘what if this building falls?’ And wouldn’t you know, less than 24 later, destruction.”

WMAR-2 News reached out to the Department of Housing and Community Development regarding the city-owned property and collapse.

We have not yet heard back.