Traffic Advisory

Contact: Adrienne Barnes
             Kathy Chopper
             (410) 361-9296


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Traffic Modifications for the

Baltimore Marathon


The Baltimore City Department of Transportation would like to advise motorists of the temporary road closures and parking restrictions in effect for the 12th annual Under Armour Baltimore Marathon, which will be held on Saturday, October 13, 2012 starting at 8:00 a.m.


The 26.2 mile course will begin at Russell and Camden Streets. In conjunction with the marathon, the Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon will also be held, along with the 5K Race, the Legg Mason Team Relay and the T. Rowe Price Kids Fun Run. Approximately 25,000 people are expected to participate in this year’s running festival.


In preparation for the event, various parking restrictions, road closures and lane closures will be implemented along the marathon route. During the marathon, temporary traffic stops may be implemented for the safety of participants. Commuters may encounter delays and should exercise patience while driving. Motorists should also pay close attention to posted parking restrictions, as vehicles parked in violation will be ticketed and towed. Citizens with questions concerning the location of their vehicles should call 311.


The following parking restrictions will be implemented on Saturday, October 13, 2012:

Linwood Avenue from Eastern Avenue to Fayette Street 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Eastern Avenue (north side) from Linwood to Patterson Park Avenues 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Boston Street (north side) from Aliceanna Street to Lakewood Avenue 2:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Lancaster Street from President Street to Caroline Street 4:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


33rd Street from Hillen Road to Guilford Avenue 4:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Eutaw Street (west side) from Madison to Monument Streets 4:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Howard Street (west side) from 23rd to 28th Streets 4:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Wyman Park Drive from Remington Avenue to Art Museum Drive 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.


Camden Street from Russell to Howard Streets 6:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Eutaw Street from Madison to Monument Streets 6:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


St. Paul Street (upper level) from Franklin to Saratoga Streets 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon


The following streets will be closed to through traffic on Saturday, October 13, 2012:

Paca Street from Pratt to Lombard Street 5:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.


Russell Street from Hamburg to Pratt Street 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.


Eutaw Street from Madison to Monument Streets 6:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Eutaw Street from Pratt to Camden Streets 7:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.


Camden Street from Russell to Howard Streets 7:00 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.


Light Street from Lombard Street to Key Highway 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


Key Highway from Cross to Light Streets 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Central Avenue from Gough to Bank Streets 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.


Pratt Street from Calvert to Exeter Streets 12:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.


Exeter Street from Pratt to Bank Streets 12:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.


Bank Street from Exeter Street to Central Avenue 12:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.



The following streets will be impacted by the marathon on Saturday, October 13, 2012:


Paca Street from Lombard to McCulloh Streets 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.


McCulloh Street from Paca Street to Greenspring Avenue 8:10 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.


Greenspring Avenue from Beechwood Drive to Wyman Park Drive (in Druid Hill Park) 8:15 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.


Wyman Park Drive from Remington Avenue to W. 28th Street 8:25 a.m. – 9:35 a.m. 


W. 28th Street from Howard to St. Paul Streets 8:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.


St. Paul Street from 28th to Light Streets 8:35 a.m. - 10:10 a.m.


Light Street from Warren Avenue to Battery Avenue to Key Highway 8:45 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.


Key Highway from Battery Avenue to Key Highway Extension to Tide Point 8:55 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.


Tide Point to Key Highway Extension to Key Highway to Light Street 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.


Light Street to Pratt Street to President Street to Lancaster Street 9:05 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.


Aliceanna Street from President to Boston Streets 9:10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.


Boston Street to Lakewood Avenue to O’Donnell St. to Linwood Avenue 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


Linwood Avenue from O’Donnell Street to Madison Street 9:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


Madison Street from Linwood Avenue to Washington Street to St. Lo Drive 9:25 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.


Harford Road from St. Lo Drive to Hillen Road 9:30 a.m. to 1:05 p.m.


Hillen Road from Harford Road to 33rd Street 9:40 a.m. to 1:35 p.m.


Lake Montebello to 33rd Street to Guilford Avenue 9:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.


Guilford Avenue from 28th to Howard Streets 9:55 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Howard Street from 28th Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Eutaw St. to finish at M&T Bank Stadium 10:10 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.



Please note that traffic along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard will remain open in both directions during the race.





The Baltimore City Department of Transportation:

“Keeping Baltimore Moving Safely” 


Grand Prix Returns, Local Impact

Very few topics have been more polarizing in the last year than the Baltimore Grand Prix.  The event was a great weekend for Baltimore filled with races, festivals, beer gardens and galleries of race cars, but the publicity before and after the event was very embarrassing for this city and its organizers, Baltimore Racing Development.  Controversy over ownership of the race , failure to pay the city and sub-contractors an estimated $12 million and the general concern over the distraction the race would cause to downtown residents and workers put a huge black cloud over this event.

The Baltimore Grand Prix was not without benefit to the South Baltimore communities.  Baltimore Racing Development donated $100,000 to city neighborhoods, including $18,000 to Ridgely’s Delight, $12,500 to Harborwalk Townhouse Association, $12,500 to Harborway East Condo Association, $12,500 to Harborway Condo Association, $12,500 to  Otterbein Community Association, $10,000 to Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, $10,000 to Sharp-Leadenhall Planning Council, $6,000 to Federal Hill Main Street and $6,000 to Pigtown Main Street.

Those funds are certainly useful to all of the community groups as Pigtown was able to create great new banners branding their main street “The BLVD: Historic Pigtown.”  However, the funds actually created controversy for the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association. The Baltimore Sun took notice as debate over the allocation of those funds eventually led to the removal of several board members.  So I guess Baltimore Racing Development couldn’t even give away money without causing controversy.

Baltimore Business Journal, as well as several local outlets, are reporting that the Grand Prix will return under a group led by Dale Dillon of Dillon Racing LLC, as well as local partners Felix Dawson and Dan Reck of Wilkes Lane Capital.  They have reached a new 5-year contract, which is waiting the approval of the City’s Board of Estimates.  Dillon brings much experience, having helped managed the St. Petersburg Grand Prix and Toronto Grand Prix.  Felix Dawson was rumored to join Baltimore Racing Development to save their contract through invested capital, but clearly he found a better situation for his interests in the race.

So how will this affect us?  50 cents of every ticket purchased will be paid to surrounding impacted communities.  So let’s do some math here –  if conservatively 100,000 tickets are sold that is $50,000 in impact fees paid to our surrounding communities.  So not as good as last year’s $100,000, but Baltimore Racing Development proved they couldn’t manage money very well.

The new contract includes provisions to protect the city from potential losses and nothing has been reported yet about the debts of Baltimore Racing Development.  Let’s hope they pay their subcontractors, which has really put those companies under financial hardship, and hopefully a settlement with the city… but that will probably take a long time to play out in the courts.

South Baltimore residents, what are your thoughts?  Are you happy the race is back? Did it alter your routine last year?  Personally I enjoyed the event and I was able to carry on without a ton of distraction, but my biggest complaint was that our beautiful Inner Harbor was a construction site for several months as they set up and broke down the race.  Do we really need that in our Inner Harbor – the state’s second largest tourist attraction – in its prime months?  What do you think?

 Update:  The contract passed with a 3-2 vote by the Board of Estimates today.  I guess it was the vote by Chuck Norris that broke the tie.

Maryland drivers! watch this video and share the road responsibly

The culture of Baltimore

The city of Baltimore, Maryland, has been a predominantly working-class town through much of its history and, being found in a Mid-Atlantic state but south of the Mason-Dixon line, can lay claim to a blend of Northern and Southern American traditions. The following are several facets of the distinctive flavor of Baltimore's culture.

Natty Boh

The city's favored local beer has traditionally been National Bohemian, or, as residents often refer to it, Natty Boh. In some areas of Baltimore, locals call it "National." The beer and its one time mascot, Mr. Boh, are considered indelible parts of Baltimore culture. The historically low price and association with the city make it a local favorite. The National Brewing Company was also the "inventor" of Colt 45 malt liquor in 1963. Natty Boh was also the long-time beer of choice for Orioles and Colts fans at Memorial Stadium. After the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984 and the Orioles left Memorial Stadium in 1991, Natty Boh was no longer available to fans at Baltimore sporting events. In 2000, brewing of the beer in Baltimore was discontinued. However, since the 2006 Orioles season, "Boh is Back" and served at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. National Bohemian beer is currently brewed out of state by the Miller Brewing Company and is distributed to Baltimore by the Pabst Brewing Company.

Row houses

Baltimore is noted for its near-omnipresent rowhouses. Rowhouses have been a feature of Baltimore architecture since the 1790s, with early examples of the style still standing in the Federal Hill and Fells Point neighborhoods. Older houses may retain some of their original features, such as marble doorsteps, widely considered to be Baltimore icons in themselves. Later rowhouses dating from the 1800s–1900s can be found in Union Square and throughout the city in various states of repair. They are a popular renovation property in neighborhoods that are undergoing urban renewal, although the practice is viewed warily by some as a harbinger of "yuppification." Elsewhere in the city, rowhouses can be found abandoned, boarded-up, and reflective of Baltimore's urban blight.[1][2]


A tour through many of Baltimore's rowhouse neighborhoods will reveal a façade style not found in many other cities, Formstone. Introduced in the 1950s, Formstone was a modern day solution to early Baltimore brick that was so poor it needed frequent painting to keep it from deteriorating. But soon Formstone became an icon of status for many homeowners.

The appeal of Formstone was that, once installed, it required virtually no maintenance. Salesmen boasted that the insulation lasted forever and that the first cost was also the last as no upkeep or repair was required. Salesmen also pointed out that Formstone was also about one-third the cost of other façade improvement solutions. Its colorful stucco-veneer gave a stone-like appearance that could be shaped into different textures. Formstone was particularly popular in East Baltimore, where residents believed that the stone imitation made their neighborhood resemble that of an Eastern European town, which some thought had an appearance of affluence.

Patented in 1937 by L. Albert Knight, Formstone was similar to a product that was invented eight years earlier in Columbus, Ohio, and called Permanent Stone. Permanent Stone was also a veneer. In the 1970s preservationists and rehabbers felt that Formstone took away from the historic and architectural value of the homes and many had it removed. This can be a costly and time consuming process. Once removed, the brick requires a thorough acid-wash cleaning and then repointing of the grout.

Marble steps

Marble steps found along the streets of Baltimore are as much a part of the city's culture as crabs and baseball games. The use of marble for steps is due to the presence of high quality white marble in Cockeysville, a town 17 miles north of Baltimore's inner harbor by highway. Indeed, the marble found there is so attractive, stone was hauled all the way from this northern Maryland town to the nation’s new capital, instead of local Potomac marble quarries, for use in decorative construction around Washington, D.C., including the Washington Monument, and 108 columns of the capitol building. During the construction phase of the Washington Monument, that is through the middle of the 19th century, the marble gained in popularity as a decorative stone and was used omnipresently for the steps of rowhouses surrounding Baltimore's inner harbor and in Fells Point. Baltimoreans take pride in the fact that their mundane doorsteps are made from the same beautiful white marble used for the construction of the famous Washington Monument. Scrubbing marble steps has become a tradition in Baltimore. The ritual includes scrubbing the marble with Bon Ami powder and a pumice stone.


How to Figure the Fuzzy Math of Internet Home Values

posted Nov 28, 2011, 7:45 AM by Aldo Figueroa


Jason Gonsalves worked hard to turn his 6,500-square-foot stucco-and-stone home in the suburbs of Sacramento into the ultimate grown-up party pad, complete with game room, custom wine cellar and an infinity-edge pool overlooking Folsom Lake. When interest rates fell recently, Mr. Gonsalves, who runs a lobbying firm, looked into refinancing his $750,000 mortgage. That's when he got startling news—the home had dropped more than $200,000 in value while he was renovating.


Or at least, that's what one real-estate website told him. Another valued the house at only $640,500. And these online estimates left him all the more confused when a real-life appraiser, assessing the house for the refinancing loan, pinned its value at $1.5 million. "I have no idea how those numbers could be so different," Mr. Gonsalves says.

Right or wrong, they're the numbers millions of consumers are clamoring for. After years of real-estate pros holding all the informational cards in the home-sale game, Web-driven companies like Zillow, and are reshuffling the deck, giving home shoppers and owners estimates of what almost any home is worth. People have flocked to the data in startling numbers: Together, four of the biggest sites that offer home-value estimates get 100 million visits a month, with web surfers using them to determine what to ask or bid for a home, or whether to refinance.

Zillow, Trulia and other websites post estimates of home values. But as Alyssa Abkowitz explains on Lunch Break, these popular sites can be -- by their own admission -- wildly inaccurate.

But for figures that can carry such weight, critics say, the estimates can be far rougher than most people realize. Valuations that are 20% or even 50% higher or lower than a property's eventual sale price are not uncommon, as the sites themselves acknowledge. The estimates frequently change, too—sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars—as sites plug new data into their algorithms.

All of the competitors make it clear their numbers are guesstimates, not gospel. "A Trulia estimate is just that—an estimate," says a disclaimer on that site's new home-value tool. Zillow goes a step further, publishing precise numbers about how imprecise its estimates can be. And every major site urges home-price hunters to consult appraisers or real-estate agents to refine their results.

But despite the disclaimers, homeowners and real-estate agents say, many Web surfers put enough faith in the estimates to sway the way they shop and sell.

After Frank and Sue Parks put their manor-style house in Louisville, Ky., on the market, they watched as Zillow put a $331,000 value on the dwelling in May; by July it had climbed to $1.5 million. (Zillow says the lower estimate reflected errors in its statistical model.) The couple got potential buyer referrals from the site, but they fended off a stream of lowball offers before they sold this fall. Mrs. Parks says the estimate roller coaster "really affected our ability to move the place."

Determining a home's value has traditionally been the job of an appraiser, who gathers data on recently sold homes and compares them with the "subject property" to arrive at an estimate.

In the late 1980s, economists started developing automated valuation models, or AVMs, computer models that could analyze data about comparable sales, square footage, number of bedrooms and the like, in a matter of seconds. For years, these tools were mostly reserved for in-house analysts at lending banks.

It wasn't until 2006 that Zillow took them to the masses, with its Zestimates, which now offer values for more than 100 million homes based on the company's own algorithms. "Humans don't make these decisions," says Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow.

Numbers like these have become weapons in the arsenal of consumers like Simms Jenkins, an Atlanta marketing executive, who has recently relied on online estimates to help him both buy and sell homes. "I can't imagine 25 years ago, when people would just go out and spend their entire Saturday looking at homes," he says. "You don't have to do that now."

But appraisers and real-estate consultants say the online models can veer off target with alarming frequency. Most data for the models come from two sources: records from tax assessors and listing data for recent sales. Collection is a challenge, however, because not every county tracks properties the same way—some calculate home size by number of bedrooms, others by overall square footage. And automated models aren't designed to account for the unique construction details that often make or break a deal, or for intangible factors like a neighborhood's gentrification. "You cannot use a computer model in certain areas and expect the value to come out right," says John May, the former assessor of Jefferson County, Ky., which includes the state's largest city, Louisville.

For all these reasons, models that banks use often add a "confidence score" to their estimates. Consumer-oriented sites, meanwhile, rely on disclaimers, some of which are eye-opening. Zillow surfers who read the "About Zestimates" page find out that the site's overall error rate—the amount its estimates vary from a homes' actual value—is 8.5%, and that about one-fourth of the estimates are at least 20% off the eventual sale price. In some places, the numbers are far more dramatic: In Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, it's 82%.

The sites argue that, over time, edits and corrections will help them perfect their numbers—with many fixes coming from their customers.

On, anyone who knows a homeowner's surname and the year the home was last purchased, can edit the details of a property listing in ways that can eventually change the estimated value.

Zillow has accepted revisions on 25 million homes—perhaps the strongest testament to how seriously consumers take its estimates. Today, the site says its figures are accurate enough to give consumers a good sense of any home's value. In the meantime, says Mr. Humphries, its economist, "We're always tweaking the algorithm or building a new one."

—Email: editors@smartmoney.comPrinted in The Wall Street Journal, page WSJ1

Portrait Photo

posted May 27, 2011, 7:38 AM by Aldo Figueroa   [ updated May 27, 2011, 7:47 AM ]

I was recently selected by the well known and cutting edge real estate website Redfin to be one of their few partner agents in the Baltimore Metro area. (Not to worry, I'm still with Riley & Associates.) They have requested a full length photo of me with white background to post on their website so potential home buyers can click on my name and contact me, should they need an agent. As a real estate professional I had to have my professional picture taken before and had no second thoughts about it.

However, as I sat in the waiting area of The Picture People in White Marsh Mall for my photographer to come out and take a full length photo, I found myself amidst crying babies, cute dogs and young couples and feeling too professional for the crowd around me.

I could feel the anxiety and anticipation surrounding the moment when the camera goes 'click'.  Should I cross my arms, put them in my pockets, stand sideways, smile big, smile small, stand straight, at ease, do what the photographer says or just what I want?

After waiting for 40 minutes past my initial appointment, the photographer showed up.  She was a young lady (well, a teenager really) who responded with a huge question mark on her face regarding my questions about the type of lighting, megapixels and extra time I had to try different poses (OK, I probably shouldn't have asked that but it was my way of getting her out of auto mode.)  I proceeded to pose, feeling awkward and pretending to be a rock star, it was hard to relax. She must have thought I was ridiculous since most of her customers are cute babies and puppies.

I wonder why portrait photos are so necessary for real estate professionals to market themselves? Perhaps because we, as humans, are attracted to what we are, the familiar.  Therefore buyers and sellers choose an agent that looks the most like them, thus giving them a feeling of 'closeness' and security. Or because they want to make sure that their agent has a head, two ears and two arms?
Whatever the case is, there are no guarantees that the agent will listen to their clients needs even though s/he has two ears, that the agent will shake hands or use their brain much when negotiating a deal.

One thing I know for sure is: it is hard to portray who you really are and what kind of work ethics you have in one single photo shot.

I would recommend people looking for an agent to not judge by the photo. Call the agent first and set up an interview. Think yourself as an employer; browse through their website, ask them about their experience, negotiating style, how many houses they have sold, if they know the market, etc.

As to my full length shot today, I was not completely happy with the results but, oh well, I should not complain. I'm more than my photo anyway.

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