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Hogan declares 1400 vacant homes demolished

Residents work to clean lots, improve neighborhood
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Posted at 6:45 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 08:01:38-04

There is perhaps no one else in Baltimore City that knows the value of a manicured lot more than 79-year-old Lewis Sharpe.

"Make it look better. See how it look right now? Once you get the mulch spread all over it, it will be clean. It will make the house and the wall look better,” Sharpe said standing next to a pile of mulch he was spreading on an empty lot in Broadway East.

Sharpe has been doing it since 1988, cleaning and tending to vacant lots in East Baltimore.

He started with his Duncan Street miracle garden just around the corner, a large area pinned behind a row of vacant homes on North Chester Street where Sharpe plants a garden every year.

He, a firm believer that clearing a city block of blight can bear fruit.

Clearing lots is therapeutic for the governor too.

Today Larry Hogan's Project C.O.R.E. (Creating opportunity for Redevelopment and Enterprise) is padding its numbers by adding the demolition of 60 more vacant homes to his running count of 1400 through the past two years.

This time the heavy machinery knocked down homes in Sandtown Winchester in the 1000 block of North Stockton Street.

The blighted area will now be transformed into a park.

The governor says the demolitions have been happening all over the city for two years now and 65 of those lots are now in redevelopment deals totaling more than 570 million in private investment.

Other demolished areas are just clean open space.

"Some of them are beautiful parks now where kids are playing on green grass and swing sets and throwing a football around as opposed to having these blighted properties so, it's making a real difference," the governor said.

And it has in some areas.

In February of last year Project C.O.R.E. demolished a group of vacant homes on North Chester Street.

The lot sits cleaned off and is now slated for a senior housing development, part of a larger three phase project guided by the Southern Baptist Church there.

But even as is, some say the blank slate has made a made a difference in both appearance and even in stemming some crime.

It is a difference Lewis Sharpe is trying to spread from one lot to another directly across the street.

"If they hadn’t knocked them down, then I was just gonna clean up the fronts of those houses, outside the house and down the alleys because we need it done. It is just the kind of thing we need around here,” Sharpe said, “If we had more people like me, the city would be beautiful you know."

But for now, he'll settle for his clean slice of East Baltimore.