Urban Affairs: New Neighbors Typify Change to Locust Point


This article is one in a series that looks at the confrontation between industry and growing real estate development in Baltimore.

BALTIMORE—Rita and Patrick Mansfield sat on the rooftop deck of their new McHenry Pointe townhome earlier this month, chatting with the residents on the neighboring roof as they waited for the fireworks that accompany the lighting of Baltimore’s Washington Monument—and kicked off the Mansfields’ first holiday season in a new city.

When M&T Bank transferred Rita Mansfield, 31, and her husband, 40, from Buffalo, N.Y., to Baltimore last summer, the couple moved to Locust Point. And with that, the Mansfields became part of the demographic shift happening in the old neighborhood.

Locust Point, like many other Baltimore waterfront neighborhoods, is growing. And many of the newcomers are people like the Mansfields. They tend to be younger, working at good jobs but—unlike earlier generations of Locust Point residents—not jobs related to the port.

After looking at areas like Canton, Federal Hill, and Fells Point, Mansfield chose Locust

Point because of its location. As a peninsula, it is a quieter neighborhood that sees less traffic.

“One of the great natural things about Locust Point is that it’s a dead end. You can’t just pass through to go to other places,” Mansfield said. Her college friend and fellow Locust Point resident Kate Williams calls it “Baltimore’s cul de sac.”

The Mansfields were also drawn by the neighborhood’s sense of community.

“Part of the attraction to Locust Point is seeing how involved the community is and everything that goes on with all the events. We decided to come here because we want to be involved and active like that,” Mansfield said, “It’s good to see that the opportunity is there.”

The couple first moved into an apartment at McHenry Row, the new apartment-retail complex, which opened last year. The apartments are the first in Locust Point, a rowhouse neighborhood, and they have been attracting many newcomers. Starting at $1,500 a month, a McHenry Row apartment puts residents in the center of new shops and restaurants.

“It took the pain out of asking people, ‘’Where do you go for this,where do you go for that,’”

Mansfield said. “That stuff is all right there, so it is very convenient.”

Mansfield takes bikram yoga and pilates classes, occasionally convincing her husband to join her. She has also never missed a McHenry Row food truck rally, a new Locust Point pastime, where locals mingle as they try new foods.

She takes the water taxi downtown to waterfront events like the dragon-boat, team-paddling event for breast cancer survivors.

“We love that there are lots of families around, and you see a lot of kids riding bikes and playing in the park,” Mansfield said. “Here in McHenry Pointe, we don’t go outside and not see kids playing.”

Mansfield takes this as a sign that Locust Point is a good place to start a family.

She said she is not bothered by the industrial noises that ring through the streets. She and her husband knew that they were moving into a neighborhood where houses sit right up against port businesses—with the constant sounds of trucks and trains.

“We expected it,” Mansfield said. “You can plainly see when you check out the area that there are ships that come in and out and train tracks and everything else,” Mansfield said.

“We would rather have sound then have it be a dead quiet area.” The noise, she added, “hasn’t bothered me at all. I think it is part of the charm.”

She admits that when she first told family and friends about her move Baltimore there were some concerns about the murder rates and that the area would be just like the TV show “The Wire.”

“No, I am not living at a crackhouse,” Mansfield said.

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