At one time, Perlman Place was a place of promise. Llocated near the American Brewery complex in East Baltimore, houses along Perlman were supposed to have been redeveloped as luxury homes. Instead, the homes on Perlman Place are being demolished, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Perlman Place is a tiny street wedged between North Avenue and Sinclair Lane, just blocks from the American Brewery complex, a redevelopment project widely viewed as a success in the midst of a troubled neighborhood. The 1900 block of Perlman Place was once slated to be the site of an $18 million luxury rehabilitation plan.
The City chose Charles T. Jeffries to develop Perlman Place, despite the fact that Jeffries lied about his finances, and appears to have a troubled past, dating back to 1997, well before Perlman Place was designated a Historic District at his urging. Only two of the homes were developed, according to the Sun article. In 2002, Jeffries sued the City for $20 million, claiming the City stalled another of his planned developments — the Lake Clifton Gatehouse. According to a City spokesperson, the developer missed a deadline, and the project was pulled. Currently, the Clifton Park Valve House is on the Baltimore Heritage Preservation Watch List.
The owner of the company chosen by the City to demolish Perlman Place also seems to have had his share of bad luck, including two charges of passing bad checks. Pless B. Jones, Sr., owner of P&J Contracting has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, a foreclosure, and vehicle inspection violations. His company’s corporate charter was forfeited for failing to pay Maryland taxes, and was only recently reinstated. P&J Contracting was also the subject of a Baltimore Sun article in 2009, when the Baltimore Development Corporation awarded P&J a contract to demolish a potential casino site, without public bidding.
We’re not disputing the fact that the neighborhood needed to be demolished — the area is a hotbed of violent crime and other illegal activity. What we’re questioning is how the City awards development projects to companies with questionable leadership. While the American Brewery complex is a shining beacon of redevelopment in the area, frankly we have to also question the process Baltimore Housing used to determine this area was ripe for “luxury” housing.
Business as usual in Baltimore? We’d like to see new leadership at Baltimore Housing and less poorly planned development in Baltimore City.