The Development, Real Estate, and Gentrification Beat

The Autograph Playhouse, soon to be The Voxel. Image courtesy Twitter.
  • The former Playhouse Theatre, which has changed hands and tenants a bunch over the past years, is now going to be some kind of tech-hub/theater project called The Voxel, set to open in 2019. Most recently it was known as the Autograph Playhouse, where the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS) practiced and offered up an ambitious, diverse bill on the regular. Now it will act as the headquarters of the design group Figure53 (known for software that makes light, sound, and video more easily integrated into stage productions) by day and a theater at night.
  • As the Baltimore Brew reported last week, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative (BRNI) has given the majority of the money it recently gave away to a Marriott Residence Inn near the Johns Hopkins Medical Center. The Brew’s headline and subheadline pretty much say it all: “New Hopkins hotel gets biggest slice of the neighborhood grant pie—No grants for Sandtown-Winchester, Penn North, Harlem Park, Forest Park and Mondawmin.” BRNI is giving $800,000 to the Marriott.
  • Other money from the BRNI: Bethel AME Church got $150,000 for a community center, the Druid Heights Community Development Corp. got $400,000 for a Bakers View housing project, Healthy Neighborhoods Inc. got $750,000 for a Reservoir Hill homeowner program, the Southeast Community Development Corp. got $740,000, and the Southwest Partnership got $395,000.
  • Last year, ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis penned “The Beleaguered Tenants of “Kushnerville,” exposing how Jared Kushner, the blank grinning Satan of the Trump administration whose companies owned a number of Baltimore apartment complexes and have treated tenants terribly (“They’re nothing but slumlords,” one is quoted as saying in the piece). Tenants are now filing a class action lawsuit and Kushner’s real estate company attempted to hide the identities of its partners, but a ruling by a judge last month said they could not. This is a big story—son-in-law and advisor to the president treats people terribly, is being sued—and this ruling in favor of transparency will help prevent this kind of abuse of tenants from continuing.
  • While some are reeling from Baltimore not getting on the final list for the Amazon Headquarters, other are breathing a sigh of relief—especially after it was revealed via Geekwire that the company has patented two designs for “for a wristband system that monitors whether warehouse workers are putting their hands in the right places.”

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