Charles Village- Baltimore’s Historic Bohemian College Neighborhood

I included John Hopkins University as well in this Charles Village evaluation as its so integrated into the neighborhood.

Charles Village is a diverse, eclectic, international, and largely middle-class area mixing a large student and homeownership population  The neighborhood traces its roots back to 1869 when 50 acres were purchased for the development as “Peabody Heights. The area was first developed as a streetcar suburb in the late 19th to early  20th century.  Most homes are exemplary Baltimore brick and stone row houses. Because of its proximity to the University, Charles Village has attracted a large population of artists and bohemians and is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Baltimore. Charles Village largely escaped the disinvestment and blight of many surrounding neighborhoods and has seen a real estate prices boom since the 2000s. Fortunately there is still a lot of moderately priced housing in the neighborhood and a fair amount of dedicated affordable housing. Charles Village is also known for hosting the Baltimore Painted ladies when a residents were challenged to take up a paint brush and choose vividly uncommon colors for the facades and front porches of their Victorian rowhouses. Within five years, residents had enlivened more than 100 homes.

Charles has most of the urban components of a top notch urban neighborhood including great density, diversity, convenient access to jobs, great public transit and bike infrastructure, diversity of housing prices and types, solid park, cultural, and retail amenities, gorgeous historic architecture, and some modern infill with quality urban form. For Charles Village to be a truly top tier American urban district it needs to address some challenges around crime (or at least perceptions of crime) , bolster more households with kids, which is likely a directly result of sub par neighborhood schools, and attract important retail amenities like a post office and larger retailers. The 25th Commercial District could also use some urban infill in some dead spots and surface parking areas.

Click here to view my Charles Village Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid urban density at around 20K residents per square mile
* Convenient access to Dwtn across all modes being only 2 miles away but also lots of jobs in the Neighborhood with John Hopkins University.
* Great connectivity in the district.
* Great system of bike lanes with 3 dedicates north-south lanes and one of them is protected. Not dedicated bike stations in Baltimore but dockless bike and scooters operating pretty well here.
* Sidewalk infrastructure is great and modern ADA curb cuts is more hit or miss. About 60% of curb cuts are to modern standards.
* Lots of rentals available with rentals generally leasing a moderate priced.  1-bed renting btwn $900-1.5K, 2-beds mostly btwn 1K-2K but some product in the mid to high 2Ks. A handful of 3-beds as well. Decent amount of dedicated affordable units.
* Good for sale diversity with 1-bed condos sell anywhere btwn 100K-400K, 2-beds generally btwn 150K-350K but some higher end product selling in the 500Ks. 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 175K-600K.
* Good park amenities with the expansive Wyman Park and John Hopkins campus (with its numerous quads) sitting to the NW of the neighborhood. Within Charles Village only a couple small parkettes.
* Solid cultural amenities with a good number of food & beverage bizs (although a bit underwhelming for a college neighborhood), a couple live music venues & night clubs (Lots of these in the Goucher district to the south), a couple art galleries, several museums including the Balt. Art Museum and several others on John Hopkins Campus, and the performing arts at the University.
* Good retail amenities including a several supermarkets and drug stores, several boutiques/clothing stores, a couple book stores, a hardware store, bike shop, several banks, a couple home goods stores, a major hospital and lots of medical offices, and several churches.
* Gorgeous historic architecture throughout, especially the painted Baltimore Ladies and solid urban infill, albeit limited.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Some generational diversity but very high numbers of students living here and limited households with children.
* Some crime issues in Charles Village but generally pretty safe also thanks to the local John Hopkins Police Force.
* Decent # of walkable schools but the public schools are generally not rated well. Some smaller better private schools in the area.
* Missing retail including a post office, more clothing stores, and this neighborhood could really use a target given the student population.
* Some surface parking lots on 25th street break up the urban fabric. Could be better streetscaping there too.
* Neighborhood Buzz could be better here. Still some concerns over safety in Charles Village.

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