The rioting and looting this week in Baltimore has homeowners and merchants crucial to the city’s ongoing revitalization efforts worrying that the violence may have a chilling effect on future investments.
For decades Baltimore has relied on newcomers willing to buy and rehabilitate dilapidated — and often abandoned — property to power the rebound of the city’s more distressed neighborhoods.
But like in many mid-sized cities across America, the revival — captured a decade ago with a simple one-word campaign, “Believe” — is fragile.
Even residents in Baltimore’s Otterbein neighborhood, a pioneer project in America’s decades-long urban renewal effort, expressed dismay about the rioting that came perilously close to them this week — and what might happen next.
“This was nothing like the 1968 riots when the city was burning. But last night was really distressing,” Otterbein resident Jeff Lauren said on Tuesday, after a night of violence across the city that resulted in 20 police officers injured, dozens of people arrested, hundreds of vehicles damaged and a CVS pharmacy set ablaze.
While his neighborhood has seen positive change over the past several decades, other sections in the early stages of revitalization — like Reservoir Hill or Station North — may be more vulnerable to any chilling effect from this week’s events.