This location was formerly an overflow parking lot for The Spire. At least, that’s how I was introduced to what would eventually become The Baldwin. I had spied the development plan at an Eastside Business Breakfast hosted by SAGE and made a note to keep an eye out for it.
I was drawn to how the renderings planned to save the beautiful yellow brick of the existing structure. And it reminded me of one of my favorite downtown Detroit neighborhoods, Harmonie Park, with its vicinity to cultural hotspots. My husband, Uche, and I can walk to Carver Community Cultural Center, the Briscoe Western Art Museum, and the Tobin Center.
I live in and love the sounds of The Baldwin’s neighborhood – the trains, traffic, doors opening and closing, St. Paul Square has got a real rhythm.
In the background, we get to see Sunset Station, a beautiful event venue, popular for hosting high-end events and outdoor concerts, and The Spire, a small, luxe event space with cathedral charms. For a long time there was a Ruth’s Chris on the corner, but it closed in 2014. A year after it shut its doors Uche and I used the empty space to host one of our #GoodPeopleSA mixers, a placemaking/networking event that brought together hundreds of transplants, professionals, and entrepreneurs. Smoke and Ash now anchor Commerce Street with help from Toro and Lilly’s Greenville. There’s a very grownup night scene on our little corner where the East Side and Downtown meet.
My husband and I do a lot of work downtown and have explored the inner four corners of living within Loop 410: Downtown, Olmos Park, Alamo Heights-adjacent, and “Zouthwest,” one of my favorite hoods, which radiates between Zarzamora and Guadalupe. We knew that we wanted to live somewhere that was reasonable, walkable, and comfortable. The Baldwin gave us all of those things.
In 2018, we were the first people to move in. It was a ghost town, but we got to know the Baldwin team and neighbors at the Vidorra, even the bus drivers recognized us from a VIA commercial we were in. Gradually, we noticed more people in the hallways, at the mailboxes or in the parking lot, and The Baldwin sprang to life.
As the community grew and neighbors got to know each other, regular meetups like monthly Wine Down Wednesdays and Sunday Brunches hosted by the Baldwin staff grew larger and larger, each more fun than the last. Uche, who moderates our community Facebook group, usually kicks the party off. It’s a diverse crowd of graduate students, teachers, active duty military, and artists. I usually relate to people by their pet of choice.
Even during Quarantine 2020, the weekly meetups have now shifted to dropping off goodies at our doors as the order to stay home came down. A few weeks into the stay-home order I launched a pocket pop-up art gallery, enlisting neighbors to submit artwork from their apartments.
The gym and community room are closed, but we are still active. Our neighbors walk to the Alamodome, or go to the top floor of the parking garage to get some exercise in. There’s cooking, singing, and game nights going on. We hear them on our own walks to the mailbox or out with Miller, our eight-year-old boxer-pitbull.
Our neighbors are the best. They are first responders, active duty military, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, world travelers, policy makers and more. We are “real downtowners,” spotting each other at the Flores H-E-B and sharing pleasantries or out and about biking to Hemisfair, Estate Coffee, or the River Walk. There’s always cheers and smiles all around. Lately, the trend is to compliment each other on our mask selection in between dog walks around St. Paul Square. We aren’t complaining. The Baldwin is bustling with activity, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.