Investing in Park Heights


With the recent unveiling of the Pimlico redevelopment project, the future of Park Heights is looking brighter. Coupled with the revitalization efforts in Central Park Heights – work that is supported by CHAI – it could lift up the neighborhood, positively impacting the entire community.

The plan, which provides for keeping the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, turns over 50 acres of land to private developers to build housing and commercial buildings. It calls for flexible spaces that could be customized, with the idea that the infield could be used for athletic fields, book fairs and farmer’s markets. 

It also includes a new clubhouse, which will be utilized for Preakness. And, it brings in the potential for new jobs, with an estimated 1,500 permanent job opportunities when the site is built out.

For CHAI, which is dedicated to strengthening northwest Baltimore, and works collaboratively with neighborhoods that lie adjacent to the track, this is a gamechanger for the community.

Speaking Up at the Maryland General Assembly

Recognizing the importance of the Pimlico redevelopment project to northwest Baltimore, CHAI plans to take an active role in the Maryland General Assembly, convening neighborhood associations to propose a bill this session to work for legislation this session that protects and preserves community interests.

This means ensuring that community leaders have a seat at the table in the development process and securing revenue from the developed properties to help fund community projects.

The Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) is also committed to the same goal. Following a presentation about the Pimlico redevelopment effort at a recent BJC meeting, the board unanimously approved, making this a priority for the agency.

“Pimlico is key to the future of northwest Baltimore,” explains Howard Libit, executive director of the BJC. “It will help unleash the potential across Park Heights, and we need to do everything to make this happen.”

That effort includes participating in hearings in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly in support of the redevelopment, reaching out to key lawmakers who may have concerns and helping to organize community members.

It also meant making the Pimlico redevelopment one of the three core issues community members addressed during Maryland Jewish Advocacy Day, which was held on Tuesday, February 18. Advocacy Day is designed to make Jewish community voices and concerns heard in Annapolis.

Going Beyond Pimlico: Investing in Central Park Heights

Today, Lisa Budlow, CEO of CHAI, sits on the Northwest Baltimore Partnership with co-founders, Lifebridge Health and Park Heights Renaissance, a nonprofit dedicated to implementing the Park Heights Master Plan. Together, along with other community partners, they meet monthly to discuss how to increase investment and build value from Park Circle to Pikesville. The Partnership is supported by state funding.

It’s part of an overall strategy to work with community leaders and make sure that all who have a stake in the future of the neighborhood will have a voice at the table.

CHAI’s work in this arena began several years ago, with its first project, the Jean Yarborough Renaissance Gardens. Working in conjunction with the Park Heights Renaissance, the two organizations developed this 60-unit independent living apartment complex for limited-income seniors.

That project has been a huge success, and CHAI plans to build more senior housing in Central Park Heights within the next few years.

In addition, says Budlow, CHAI plans to leverage its expertise in housing, developed over three decades of work in Baltimore City and County, to target acquisition of vacant properties and renovate them into single-family homes. They currently own three properties with five more under contract and plan to begin renovations in the next several months. Ultimately these properties will be sold to homebuyers.

“We have a vision for a broader Park Heights where we all work together toward common goals,” says Budlow. “CHAI is investing time, energy and capital to be a good partner in this important work. This is an exciting time in Park Heights,” she says.

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