Baltimore Eastside Councilman Robert R. Stokes is buying two vacant homes from the city for 44% below appraised value.
The agreement between the 12th District Legislature and the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCDD) will come before the Board of Estimates for formal approval on Wednesday.
Buildings in the 1800 block of North Broadway, south of North Avenue, are battered remnants of two decades of city ownership.
One is just a shell, with no roof and a missing third floor, while the other has a mature tree growing from its base.
Next door to the roofless house is a completely renovated residence. And a few doors down, another row house sold last month for $283,000.
In the year Stokes sees a promising future in the area, where he has served as a councilor since 2016. He currently rents a house near Preston Street and has seen the Great Blacks in Wax Museum rebuilt and expanded on North Street.
Awaiting adjusted profit
Reviewed by HCD documents The brewStokes, who earned $76,000 last year and has no other income, said he plans to invest $200,000 in each property.
He said he would sell one building to a homeowner “for an estimated $300,000” and keep the other as his primary residence.
Stokes first approached the city and offered $1,000 for each building through the “usual application process.”
As required by law, HCD conducted an evaluation, and Wesley A. Barclays & Associates estimates the total price at $32,000 – $13,000 for the roofless home and $19,000 for the companion – based on condition and nearby comparisons.
HCD said that by offering the properties for $9,000 each, or 56% of the assessed value, the sale would “provide a distinct benefit to the immediate community” by helping to “eliminate problems and return the properties to the city’s tax rolls.” The deal was approved by Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy last month.
Often the city sells vacant properties at a discount “community benefit” is reasonable, but rarely with this sharpness.
The city often sells vacant properties at a discount, but rarely at such a steep decline.
This week, for example, the BOE will approve two other open house sales to private investors who promise to return the properties to productivity.
The West Pratt Street vacant lot will be bought for $12,500 – or 20% below the $15,600 assessment – while the Chelsea Terrace building will be bought at full appraised value of $17,370.
Stokes did not respond to multiple emails to his office and his personal account.
HCDD said it was able to contact Jeffrey Hochstetler, director of the ethics board, who said the sale did not pose a conflict of interest under the city’s ethics code.
In discussions with the Department of Housing, Stokes agreed to begin reconstruction within 90 days of receipt of the property deed and said work would be completed within a year.
He said he would use private loans and cash for the purchase and rehab, and agreed not to seek city funds or other public “incentives for the purchase or rehabilitation.”
The deal calls for occupancy of one of the buildings for at least two years.
With the purchase, Stokes will be the only city council member directly involved in local property development, according to disclosure statements filed with local lawmakers.
City Council President Nick Mosby shares a rental unit on Fulton Street, but the property is managed by his partner, Ronald Rock.
Mosby and his wife’s parents bought a town-owned home in Reservoir Hill at a discount before running for elected office.
Across Broadway from Stokes’ new neighborhood, Gompers School still stands.
Once home to East High School, the landmark building is in terrible shape, with windows boarded, broken or missing and graffiti marring the walls.
Yesterday Cory Gilley was riding his bike and stopped to comment on the failed federal affordable housing complex that has been vacant since 1997 and owned by the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC).
“Man, I wish I could fix this,” said Gilley, who lives in the 1700 block of North Broadway.
“My parents went to school here. Look at it now – scary! The city must do something That’s what he said.He said.