The other side of Hampden

What do you know about Hampden?

Hampden is a somewhat bifurcated neighborhood. On one side of Falls Road you have 36th Street, also known as The Avenue, with its restaurants (up- and down-scale), bars (up- and down-scale), hipster clothes and, well, hipsters. Real estate-wise, it’s a sought-after area with an absorption rate for home sales just under 60 days (a seller’s market). It’s authentic small-scale Baltimore and an appropriate place to film a Baltimore version of “Friends.” (Actually, several neighborhoods seem to be vying for that characterization, including Canton, Fells Point, Locust Point, Station North, and Remington.

p10001321Turn west on 36th Street off Falls Road and leave all the talk about “Hon” behind. It’s still 36th Street, but it’s not “The Avenue” anymore. It’s quiet — eerily quiet, especially for Baltimore. I walk my dog Blue around Roosevelt Park (or rather, he walks me). So that’s how I discovered this side of Hampden. There’s Poole Street: the 3500 block of Poole Street. There is no 3400 or 3600 block of Poole; it’s a one-block street. It seems that everyone here has always been here, but that can’t be true. On Poole Street alone, there have been 9 home sales in the last 15 years.

Drive further down 36th Street heading west and there’s a huge vacant building at the corner of Buena Vista and 36th waiting to be condofied. Across the street is Chuck’s Food Market. If you need anything, and I do mean anything, you can find it there. It’s smaller than the average 7-11, but you can buy bread and cold cuts; a table and chair to sit at; a t-shirt to wear while sitting at the table eating your sandwich; and an impressive array of body piercing jewelry if you should ever run short.

p1000138Make a left or a right off 36th and you get the sense that the residents embrace the quiet anonymity of the place. Stroll further down 36th Street and it drops off like a blue-square ski slope before it T-bones into Ash Street. Other than the folks at “Barks and Blooms” (a day-care facility for dogs on Ash Street), I don’t know anyone in this neighborhood, so I’ll let my imagination guide my description of who lives here.

–Ravens fans? Absolutely, but they don’t make a big deal about it.

— Welcoming to newcomers? Maybe, but they don’t make a big deal about that, either.

–They know how to make things by hand, but are not likely to say “voila” after they’ve finished.

This inconspicuous side of Hampden has an absorption rate of around 40 days in home sales. So somebody is p1000133selling and someone is buying – and fast. The prices are considerably lower on the west side of Hampden, but that goes along with being inconspicuous.

When I walk my dog on this side of Hampden, he seems excited and stops to sniff something every few yards. It might be hard for the casual observer to tell, but Blue can sense something is going on here.

Greg Bridges is a Baltimore-based Realtor who sells and writes about real estate in Baltimore. 410-215-0565

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    email: g.bridges@lnf.com
    tele: 410 . 215 . 0565