Saturday, October 29, 2005

Assclowns or not? You make the call.

Several years ago, while languishing in a Midwestern hellhole, I ran across a city paper article about two brothers (Brian Taylor and Vaugh Vigil) that purchased a shell of a rowhouse at 1708 Madison Ave. in Baltimore City. As you can see from the map, these guys didn't select the suavest part of Baltimore to call home. As a result, they paid less than $30, 000 for the property. There were articles in the City Paper and the Sun and Taylor even has a blog about it. I remember thinking that this might be the first blogger to document his own suicide. It turns out that I was wrong. Taylor has been there for over 3 year and according to his online journal he is still with us. Regardless of what you or I think of these guys, it can't be argued that they don't have balls.

I have read his journal in its entirety. It consists of his struggle to get the Baltimore City government to stop drug sales in his neighborhood. He makes endless calls to 911/311 to try to get the police to crack down on hand- to-hand drug sales near his home. He has even gone as far as building a lounge for city cops to use for breaks. In his journal, Taylor reports that there has been some progress; the local dealers are more discreet when plying their trade. Nevertheless, he doesn't have to look far to find evidence that the local drug trade is still flourishing.

On the whole, Taylor seems like a nice guy who genuinely cares about the well-being of his neighbors and neighborhood. Nevertheless, there are some circumstances of his situation that are troubling. The real estate market in the metropolitan Baltimore area is absolutely apeshit and has been for years. Housing prices have skyrocketed, tripling and quadrupling the prices paid for equivalent properties in other regions of the country. The only reason that Taylor could afford to by his rowhouse is that it was an abandoned shithole in a crack neighborhood. These are the majority of properties in the region that are going for less than $100,000. Now that he is established in the crack neighborhood, he wants to eliminate the very factors that allowed him to buy there in the first place. I have to think that property value is a motivator for Taylor. If he simply wanted an affordable home then all he had to do was renovate the property and move in. It is possible to live in inner Baltimore City, without declaring war on the local drug peddlers. Not that I am condoning crack dealing, but I am not naive enough to think that Taylor (nor do I think that Taylor is, either) is making a dent in the city's drug trade. I wonder if the local crack dealers agreed to conduct all sales at a minimum of 7 blocks from 1708 Madison, whether we would hear of or from Taylor again. He says that a realtor has recommended a selling price, for his rowhouse, of a $100,000. I guess we will find out shortly whether he is a property flipper that managed to rook the City Paper, Baltimore Sun, and the police department.


At 10:20 PM, Anonymous brian said...

I paid less than 30K for a row house in the city last year. Where I live the crack dealers refer to me as Mr Brian


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