Ward Street Wrap Up!
Wrapping up Ward Street’s construction with the Orioles!
What do you get when you mix visible investment in the form of new and rehabilitated homes with engaged, long-term residents and community partners who step up to the plate to create stronger, safer, healthier and more vibrant neighborhoods?
You get a new narrative for one of Baltimore’s most culturally and economically diverse communities – Pigtown. Steps away from Orioles Park at Camden Yards, and home to more than 5,000 residents, Pigtown proudly hosts three public schools, 12 active churches, Paul’s Place (a neighborhood staple offering a wide range of programs for the neighborhood), a Head Start community center, a local golf course, and an active community association. However, this bustling, modern community that revels in its unique name and history was a mere vision just two decades ago due to vacant properties and disinvestment.
Since 2004, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has worked in collaboration with Paul’s Place and other community supporters to revitalize the Ward Street corridor. In that time, Habitat Chesapeake has built or renovated a total of 41 homes in Pigtown, including 20 homes in the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Ward Street.
In 2018, Habitat Chesapeake pressed forward, demolishing seven vacant, burned-out houses using State demolition funds from the Hogan Administration. The plan was simple: replace the derelict structures with three larger homes. The goal? Transform the 1100 block of Ward Street from blight to stability, fostering a stronger, healthier neighborhood where homebuyers find safety, security and the much-deserved opportunity to build a brighter future for their families. To accomplish this, we looked to our dedicated group of supporters including our very own “Home Team”, The Baltimore Orioles, to bring some Bird Land magic to our build site!
Why South Baltimore?
When Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake builds a home, we want to ensure it is in a neighborhood that families will want to call home for the next 30 years or more. There are dozens of communities across Central Maryland that have significant assets – from parks to transit access, to strong anchor institutions – but need additional resources to realize their full potential. We select where we work carefully, looking for these existing assets as well as engaged residents, businesses, fellow nonprofit organizations and civic groups who are already working on other community development initiatives.
As Habitat Chesapeake brings visible investment in the form of new and rehabilitated homes and engaged, long-term residents, we are also working alongside community partners to advocate for other projects and improvements that create stronger, safer, healthier, and more vibrant communities.
After clearing the debris and breaking ground, we called on The Baltimore Orioles to take a break from the chaos of Baseball season and take a swing at construction! With the support of The Orange & Black Gives Back employee volunteer program and The Orioles Wives, The O’s swapped their helmets for hardhats and swung into action on the 1100 block of Ward. Over the course of four build days throughout the Summer, players like Ryan McKenna and Tyler Wells along with The Orioles Wives and executive team rolled up their sleeves to hang drywall, hammer nails, insulate walls and even a bit of frame work!
“Our employees love to give back, and our Orange & Black Gives Back program allows us to do that. We have employees who return [to Habitat construction sites] multiple times because they can’t get enough of helping people and this is just one of the many projects we do throughout the year, but I would say it’s one of the most meaningful in a long time,” shared Jennifer Grondahl, Senior Vice President of Community Development and Communications for The Baltimore Orioles.
This past February, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake hit the ball out of the park with the completion of these three beautiful 2-story row homes adorned with a custom HFH cornice that adds a subtle Habitat touch that will stand for years to come. Where seven derelict, burned-out shells once sat now stands 1154-1158 Ward Street, with 3 large, 3-bedroom homes with 1178 square feet of living space, a grassy backyard, off-street parking and a parking pad to accommodate the staff and visitors at Paul’s Place. Additionally, the homes are energyefficient to keep costs down for homeowners.
“This is literally our neighborhood and so, the impact is direct in terms of the Orioles presence in this part of [Baltimore] city,” commented Mike Elias, Executive Vice President and General Manager for The Baltimore Orioles.
It’s a beautiful signature piece! We wanted something functional but unique to us that matched the charm of the city.
Three new homebuyers will soon call Pigtown home and The O’s Family are eager to welcome their new neighbors to the neighborhood. A celebration with our Home Team and Homebuyers is in the works as we wrap-up our work on the 1100 block of Ward Street.
We at Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake would like to thank our dedicated supporters including The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, Brown Advisory, University of Maryland Baltimore, Prime AE Group, Chaney Enterprises, Baltimore Orioles, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and The Episcopal Church for their contributions to this transformative project. Three cheers for Ward Street!
Above: a group of Orioles staff and players join Habitat Chesapeake onsite during one of several build days. Below: a sketch for rebuilding the historic homes on the 1100 block of Ward Street; 1154-1158 Ward after construction is nearly complete; Orioles players Tyler Wells and Ryan McKenna join and help construct the new homes; Red Hats help carve out the new cornices for the homes inspired by their historic design.
About Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake (www.habitatchesapeake.org) brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Since 1982, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has built more than 780 homes in 19 communities, providing a brighter future for 2,700 children and family members. Homeownership is proven to transform lives – improving health, increasing children’s chances of academic success and offering an opportunity to build wealth across generations. Likewise, homeownership enhances neighborhoods by bringing tangible investment, engaged, long-term residents, rising property values and a sense of community.