Woman wins decades-long battle to save her Baltimore home


More than two decades after receiving a demolition order from the city of Baltimore, Sonia Eaddy has won the battle to save her home in Poppleton.

The city wanted to demolish Eaddy’s home to make way for a long-delayed development west of downtown, but Mayor Brandon Scott said at a news conference Monday that the developer had removed Eaddy’s property from a proposed development after negotiations with the city.

“I just want to cry right now,” Eaddy told a crowd of about 50 people. “It was foreseeable for a long time.”

The announcement comes after months of vague pledges from city officials to find a solution that would uphold Baltimore’s deal with New York developer La Cité and also address concerns from the Poppleton community. Online and in-person discussion among community members, activists, La Cité and city officials had been tense and controversial, but the mood on Monday was celebratory.

Scott thanked members of the Poppleton community for their patience while the city negotiated with La Cité.

“As we become more conscious of reinvesting in communities like this, we don’t want that reinvestment to harm our legacy residents, residents who have stayed in these communities, believed in our city, and borne the burden of decades of disinvestment,” Scott told the crowd . “Renovation must be a win-win situation for everyone.”

When Scott announced that Eaddy’s property would be removed from the proposed development, the crowd cheered and applauded, and a big smile spread across Eaddy’s face.

As Eaddy spoke, she thanked the mayor, city officials, the media and community organizers like Nicole King. But Eaddy said she has a special thanks for the public and said her home would not have been spared without significant outcry from other residents.

Eaddy even hugged Dan Bythewood, the president of La Cité, whose company had long planned to demolish their home.

“After a hearing we had down at City Hall, we met in the lobby and I told Dan [Bythewood] we can do this together,” Eaddy recalled. “We work better together. And thank you for this decision. And I look forward to working with you as you advance your development.”

For his part, Bythewood said he was excited to be “moving forward in a direction that is win-win for all.”

Dating to at least the 1900s, if not the 1870s, Sonia and Curtis Eaddy’s home stands near a row of brightly colored houses in alleyways on Sarah Ann Street. Alley houses are a particular style of small townhouses that are becoming increasingly rare in Baltimore.

As part of Monday’s announcement, Scott said development company Black Women Build will be renovating these alley houses.

Poppleton, a predominantly black neighborhood west of Martin Luther King Boulevard, has long suffered from rot, and city leaders began work on a redevelopment plan more than two decades ago.

Eaddy received word in 2000 that her three-story townhouse at the intersection of North Carrollton Avenue and Sarah Ann Street was to be demolished. Since then she has been fighting against her repression. Eaddy collected signatures on a Save the Block petition in 2005 after the city awarded La Cité the project to develop.

At the time, Eaddy’s home was one of more than 500 lots slated for demolition for the Center\West development, more than half of which were already owned by the city or in the process of purchase. About 114 properties were inhabited, 34 of them by owners. As the redevelopment project continued to be delayed, the Eaddys became one of the few homeowners to stay and fight removal.

La Cité recently completed the first phase of its Center\West development, a mixed-use development of 262 rental units in five and six storey buildings.

Bythewood said Monday the next phase will be a senior living building at 231 N. Schroeder St. — and it won’t displace the Eaddys.

The Center\West project is a private development but had to work with the city to acquire lots and demolish. The project has also benefited from tax-boost funding, which diverts increased property taxes from city coffers to pay off debt for some infrastructure improvements instead. In 2017, the city issued $12 million of such tax increase funding bonds to support the project.

Activists had drawn parallels between the Center\West development and the Franklin-Mulberry Expressway, which runs along the north side of Poppleton.

The freeway, known as “The Highway to Nowhere,” is a 1.39-mile stretch of road originally intended to extend Interstate 70 into downtown Baltimore. The project was halted in the 1970s, but not before black neighborhoods were destroyed and hundreds of families displaced.

Eaddy described her win Monday as much more than a decades-long struggle over a single home, but as a sign to other Baltimore neighborhoods that they can control their own destiny if they are willing to organize and fight.

“It’s what it takes for all of Baltimore City,” Eaddy said. For “the residents who are invested in these neighborhoods, who have suffered and lived through all of the divestment, this victory is for us – all of us.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/woman-wins-decades-long-fight-to-save-her-home-in-baltimore/2022/07/20/79d41e8a-07d1-11ed-911b-f04803b1891b_story.html Woman wins decades-long battle to save her Baltimore home

Dustin Huang

Dustin Huang is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Dustin Huang joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: dustinhuang@24ssports.com.

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