Spotlighting the Cherry Hill Neighborhood
From the outside looking in, Cherry Hill may seem isolated. However, its proximity to Downtown Baltimore and major highways makes it a perfect location for commuters. This strong-willed South Baltimore neighborhood with a uniquely diverse mix of families, small business owners, lawyers, barbers, doctors, etc., are more than neighbors. Together, they are a village with a multi-generational footprint in the area.
Cherry Hill Strong is a nonprofit organization that partners with Cherry Hill residents to coordinate projects and programs with a strategic focus on education, affordable housing, community wellness, and economic vitality. The Live Baltimore team was privileged to meet with Cherry Hill Strong’s Founding Executive Director, Zeevelle “Z.” Nottingham-Lemon, their Deputy Director of Operations, Natasha Muhammad, and many current residents to learn about what it’s like to live, work, and grow in this neighborhood.
Better Business Opportunities
Cherry Hill Strong calls itself the “Community Quarterback” as it “aims to bring equitable holistic transformation and revitalization to the Cherry Hill neighborhood” by aligning its community partners with strategies and resources to create holistic community investment. Some of these initiatives include local workforce development, hosting a weekly black-owned farmer’s market, uplifting local businesses in the Cherry Hill Town Center, supporting local youth programming, like the Hybrid Youth Workforce Development Programadministered by RICH Juice Bar, and more.
New and Renovated Community Amenities
Cherry Hill residents have the most convenient access to the Middle Branch Fitness & Wellness Center, a new 35,000-square-foot fitness and wellness center located on Reedbird Avenue. Another upgrade, the Reimagine Middle Branch project, is an ongoing redevelopment initiative from the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. This project includes plans to reduce and prevent shoreline erosion and to build new playgrounds, parks, walking trails, event spaces, and more near the 11 miles of shoreline known as the Middle Branch region, which will also make for a more enriching experience at the annual Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival. Read about more community developments in this neighborhood in our blog, “Community Developments in Middle Branch You Want to Know About.”
Building Up the Housing Inventory
Since its creation, most of the housing inventory in Cherry Hill has been government-funded public housing, with few options for homeownership. Despite this, interest in homeownership in the Cherry Hill area has always been high. Michael Tisdale, developer of Marie’s Landing, a community of owner-occupied townhomes developed in 1999, can attest to this longstanding interest in homeownership in Cherry Hill. When Marie’s Landing townhomes hit the market in 1999, Tisdale can recall more than 400 inquiries within the first two weeks of marketing the properties! That interest persists today. Another primary developer in the area is the Cherry Hill Development Corporation (CHDC), a community-based nonprofit organization working towards blight reduction, general welfare, and economic development, working daily to increase the homeownership inventory in Cherry Hill.
Fewer Barriers to Homeownership
With the ongoing interest in homeownership and the increase in the housing inventory for eager buyers, the logical next step is to reduce the barriers new buyers face when purchasing their first home. So, we’re doing just that! Live Baltimore’s Buy Back the Block grant program allows Cherry Hill renters to purchase a home they love so much, reducing displacement in the neighborhood. We’ve learned that Cherry Hill residents love their community and don’t want to leave, and now, they won’t have to.
Thanks to the efforts of Cherry Hill Strong, community partners, developers, and the Cherry Hill residents, this often overlooked neighborhood will continue to thrive with even more enthusiasm.
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