For many people, trying to decide between city life and county life can be difficult. Westgate, a Southwest Baltimore neighborhood that claims homes in both the city and Baltimore County, offers potential homebuyers the luxuries and benefits of either lifestyle.
Found along Edmondson Avenue, just past the popular neighborhood of Ten Hills, Westgate offers something of a hidden treasure, residents say.
"It's a well-kept secret, I might say, because a lot of people are surprised by it," said Flo Schwarzkopf, a Westgate resident for 30 years and an agent with the Catonsville office of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA. "A lot of people moving into the neighborhood are young families, and we have a lot of singles. When I moved here in 1968, I was the youngest person on my block and the only one with kids. And now I'm one of the [older homeowners]. The younger people find it a very attractive neighborhood for the price."
The community association covers both the city and county sides of the community along Edmondson Avenue. On the county side, the area starts at Meridale Road and extends to U.S. 40. On the city side, the area includes most of the area between Greenwich Avenue, Stamford, Westgate, Rock Glen and North Bend roads including Mallow Hill and Stonecroft roads.
The community association is one of the oldest associations around, having started in the 1930s, said Earl Blake, the community association president. Originally, the area was two separate communities, Westgate in the city and Merrydale Farms in the county. But in the mid-1930s the homeowners in Merrydale Farms voted to become a part of the Westgate community, according to Blake.
The history of Westgate includes North Bend Road (then Lane), which extended from Frederick Avenue since at least 1877. Small estates, many owned by city bankers and businessmen, were built on both sides of the road. The northern sections -- close to the Ellicott City streetcar line -- were laid out in 1913 and began to build up in the 1920s.
The housing stock is mostly made up of bungalows, Colonials, Cape Cods and Tudor-style homes with an average lot of 50 by 100 feet. Most of the homes were constructed during the 1920s and 1930s, and the amenities include oak hardwood floors -- many with walnut inlays -- fireplaces, full basements and stained glass windows. The average sales price is $75,000 to $110,000.
The area also offers rowhouses, duplexes and apartments. Almost all the homes have at least three bedrooms and many come with four or even five.
"These are the features that people are surprised to find, and that's what they are looking for but can't find in a lot of other neighborhoods," said Schwarzkopf, who has four daughters, two of whom live in Westgate.
The housing selection is what Patrick Burns liked most about the area and why he decided to buy in Westgate.
"I knew the city and I liked the Catonsville area from when I had a job in college. The first attraction for me was the housing stock. It has a lot of charm to it. The neighborhood is an eclectic collection of houses," said Burns, who served as the Westgate community association president for five years. "It's a mature neighborhood so all of the trees are grown. And all of the houses aren't the same."
Burns lives in one of the newer houses, a three-bedroom, brick Cape Cod built in 1950.
"I have solid oak, hardwood floors. You just don't get that too often. And all the houses have neat things like that giving them a lot of charm. You also get a lot of space for your money," said Burns. "But it is also the location. You are close to downtown, close to Washington, D.C., and 15 minutes from the airport."
The old-fashioned neighborhood flavor is what drew Gini Trotti in 1991. Three years later, her daughter, Candance Trotti, also moved to Westgate only a few houses away. Candance found a house on the county side, while -Gini chose a city location.
"We wanted more of a city. We lived in Northern Virginia and it was getting too expensive. So we decided to look around and really look for neighborhoods. And we looked all over Baltimore. This to me epitomized what I remembered growing up as a nice solid working neighborhood. I just fell in love with it and fell in love with Baltimore," Gini Trotti said. "So we actually still commute to Washington, D.C., everyday."
The neighborhood pride and closeness is also what brought Blake, the community association president, back six years ago. He grew up in Westgate and moved back after living in Carroll County for nearly 10 years.
"It was just too far to drive, too much of a commute," said Blake, who works downtown.
"This is such a great location. And people really don't leave. Once they move here they stay. However, we are sort of in a transition with a lot of young people moving in as the older residents move out. And sometimes you hear of people moving out for jobs, but you don't really hear about people moving just because they want to move."
Although running a community association that includes both the city and county can be difficult, it also has its benefits. Recently, the community began the process of transforming a vacant lot into a neighborhood park and was able to tap into both city and county funds. Residents hope that the park will eventually house a police substation to be used by both the city and county police departments.
"Most of the park is in the city, but about 20 percent sits in the county. So if you want to do something, you have to get permission from both agencies," Blake said. "But the good part about that is if you get a grant, you can spend it on the whole park. So you have two jurisdictions to receive funds from."
Average commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 10 minutes
Public schools: North Bend Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Westowne Elementary, West Baltimore Middle, Catonsville Middle School, Edmondson Westside High, Catonsville High.
Shopping: Westview Mall, Security Square Mall
Homes on the market: 8*
Average listing price: $90,151*
Average sale price: $88,338*
Average days on market: 215*
Sales price as a percentage of listing: 98%**Based on 16 sales in the past 12 months as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.
ZIP code: 21229Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times