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Ashley Valis, MSW
Ashley Valis, the executive director of University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Office of Community Engagement, bought her first house in Baltimore City after graduating from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 2006. Last year, she and her family moved from Ridgely’s Delight to a larger home in Hollins Market.
Office of Community Engagement
Hollins Market Resident
What originally made you want to buy a home in Hollins Market?
As my family grew, my husband and I needed more space for our two children, but didn’t have the budget for a larger home in one of the city’s downtown neighborhoods that can be extremely pricey. We found the housing stock in Southwest Baltimore to be “more for our money”… and we found a gem of a house in the Hollins Market neighborhood.
It was a win-win. We loved living in Ridgely’s Delight, and basically just moved a few block away, but still have the same “city living” perks.
We have a beautiful, historic home that we can afford, and we didn’t have to give up walking to the Inner Harbor or to work. I work on campus, so I can walk to work in five minutes, and my husband works downtown at City Police Headquarters, so his commute is less than 10 minutes. Eliminating a work commute was definitely part of why we decided to buy in the Hollins Market area. If I have to work full time, I want to be away from the house as little as possible.
What do you love most about living in your neighborhood?
In addition to not having a commute, my family can walk to all of the downtown amenities — the aquarium, the science center, and Federal Hill Park. We can also ride the free Charm City Circulator to Port Discovery. My workout routine consists of running a 3-mile loop from our house, to the Inner Harbor, along the waterfront promenade, and back — through one of the most scenic and refreshing parts of Baltimore. We can be on I-95 in three minutes, or to a MARC train station in five minutes. This location is so convenient to everything!
What is your relationship like with your neighbors?
I love my neighbors. My street is probably 85 percent people who are affiliated with the UMB campus or University of Maryland Medical Center. We have faculty, staff, and students constantly walking to and from campus, making it feel like a university district or an extension of campus. I get to know the students and learn about where they are from and what they are studying. We even have a dinner club hosted at various neighbor’s homes each month. We all look out for each other, which is a great feeling.
What are some of your favorite things to do in the area?
Since I have young children, we are constantly downtown exploring museums, parks, and enjoying all of the perks of city life. We walk to the Inner Harbor, play with all of the neighborhood children at our tot lot, and even have “Taco Toddler Take-over” at Sliders on Monday nights for dollar tacos! There are so many families in this part of Baltimore, it is easy to make new friends and always have someone around to play with.