2928 Oakford Avenue Profile

2928 Oakford Avenue after renovation. Black and white staircase with aisle lighting. Overlooking kitchen area with white walls and stainless steel appliances.
2928 Oakford Avenue after renovation.

2928 Oakford Avenue

Marion Ragland worried she wouldn’t find a home that accommodated her vision impairment as she planned to move from California to Baltimore. But thanks to a team of vacant property developers, Ragland now owns a rehabilitated home designed just for her.

2928 Oakford Avenue during the rehab process. Gutted interior of the property.
2928 Oakford Avenue during the rehab process.

2928 Oakford Avenue used to be a distressed vacant property filled with gargantuan stacks of old records, piles of clothing, multiple refrigerators, and other material hoarded by a former owner. This mess was a breeding ground for rodents. The developers say it took about six dumpsters of material to remove before they even noticed the property’s structural decay. Plumbing, sewer lines, electrical, everything needed to be redone, says one of the developers. On top of that, the full-gut rehab also required jackhammering the walls, which led to conflicts with neighbors. This being their first One House At A Time property, these challenges served as lessons learned. “It’s not something you casually get into,” one developer wisely warns. Yet they are grateful to receivership, describing it as a “beacon of light in Baltimore City,” and praising its ability to remove liens.

Ragland, who is legally blind, was excited to learn from her real estate agent about the opportunity to purchase a property within the rehab process where she could include some customization. She entered the project, meeting the developers, discussing her wants and needs, and approving the developers’ ideas. “I did this all in faith,” says Ragland. “Meaning, I never saw the house until after they started rebuilding.”

"It's one thing as a builder to stand behind your product, but it's another to have the buyer stand behind your product."

With garbage cleared and work already started, the developers needed to quickly readjust the traditional blueprint they use for their projects. “This design was evolutionary, not revolutionary,” says one of the developers. “We were able to take the features and components that were familiar and then add additional things that helped us along the way to make sure we had a satisfied buyer.” They say some of their own research went into these additions, but the new design mostly stemmed from listening to their buyer. “It’s one thing as a builder to stand behind your product, but it’s another to have the buyer stand behind your product. Positive feedback from our buyers and then word of mouth is going to draw additional residents to the city of Baltimore, which is what this is all about.”

The project resulted in a break-even, meaning they made no profit. But the developers say they are happy to contribute to the Baltimore community, “helping to eliminate blight, deliver a foundation of wealth in homeownership, and helping the city try to reverse some of the historical issues that have challenged the area.” The team is proud to build in Baltimore and they say that even though there are many “hoops to jump through” to build here, most do not realize the resources available in Baltimore and how there are people willing to help developers. 

2928 Oakford Avenue kitchen appliances. Smart stove and microwave.
Wi-Fi enabled kitchen appliances.

Ragland is also excited about Baltimore. Originally from the East Coast, she says she moved to Baltimore to be closer to her family, for its diverse community, and for her love of the Baltimore Harbor. “I love Baltimore,” says Ragland. “Baltimore Harbor is one of my favorite harbors I’ve ever been to. Even [compared to] California, and there are harbors everywhere. I lived in the Bay Area.”

Ragland entered her finished home alone. “The house was still, and I’m going through from room to room,” says Ragland. “I was just in tears when I saw the end product. I was like, wow, this is mine.” In the bright and clean, white-walled house, the team installed additional grips and handrails for interior and exterior stairs, a voice-activated thermostat, and smart Bluetooth features including a Wi-Fi enabled stove and microwave for Ragland to operate from her phone instead of buttons and dials that are more difficult for her to see.

"You have no idea how much my life will change."

Aisle lighting up the black and white staircase.
Aisle lights along the staircase.

Most important to Ragland is the abundance of light throughout the home. She says she used to leave flashlights all over her house to get around. Now she has aisle lights­—like what you see in movie theaters—to illuminate her path up and down the stairs. The team also included extra lighting sources around the interior and exterior of the house. “I don’t know if one would have such an appreciation, without having [impaired] eyesight, of what lighting does for me and the quality of my life,” says Ragland.

In this emotional state, taking in her new home, Ragland left a voicemail for the developers. “Hi, this is Marion. I just want to thank you. Oh, my goodness, I want to thank you. Everything is beautiful. You have no idea how delighted I am,” she says. “You have no idea how much my life will change.”

The developers kept the voicemail, saying they’ve never received such gratitude from anyone they’ve worked with. They say that this voicemail is the most rewarding part of the entire 2928 Oakford project. “With all the loads of dirt and all of the material, with rats crawling out of the basement, with disputes with the neighbors, and getting through the transaction with real estate agents, all of that kind of washed away with a simple thank you for our efforts.”




Share Your Rehab Story

Have a receivership success story of your own? Tell us more and we might feature your work on our website and LinkedIn blog.