I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
– William Ernest Henley
(BALTIMORE – January 11, 2023) – J. Howard Henderson, former President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Urban League, just gave me the word. Henderson said he lost a friend yesterday, Otis Warren.
We lost a business titan in Baltimore whose name is synonymous with real estate. The indomitable Otis Warren took over his father’s property management business which include collecting rent and transformed it into a real estate brokerage.
No one article can do justice to the legacy he established.
As a young kid in Baltimore, everybody knew his name. He was a living example for people in my generation that one did not have to sell drugs, for instance, to make a living. Always dressed in a suit, he was a master at business who was revered by those who knew him.
Yes, a giant got his wings yesterday. This spectacular Black man who spoke about overcoming speech challenges to become one of the greatest businessmen ever in this town is now up there with the ancestors … like Raymond V. Haysbert, Arnold Jolivet, and Bob Clay.
These men were living proof of the power of the Black mind in a city with a horrid history of segregation.
And considering Warren’s industry was real estate, one can only marvel at the fact that race did not stop him.
Paul Taylor, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses here in Baltimore, stated that Warren’s building at the corner of Baltimore and Howard is highly indicative of the caliber of work he completed.
“He did the building at 10 S. Howard Street that still remains a highly-rated apartment building,” said Taylor. “Warren was one of the first franchises that was able to tap into real estate sales. Also, he was the first Black president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors.”
Taylor had suggested just a week ago that we see about recognizing Warren with a Joe Manns Black Wall Street Award. He had been ill.
Nonetheless, his impact on Baltimore’s Black business community is unparalleled.
“I met him and did work for him in the past,” said Robert Harrington, founder and CEO of R.E. Harrington Plumbing and Heating.
Harrington is one of the largest Black contractors in the state – a young titan himself, no doubt.
“I had a few interactions with him over the years. It was a great experience. I met him through Randy Phipps, and Bob Clay, Pless “P.J.” Jones. Those older guys welcomed me. Mr. Warren was an icon in those circles. While I did some snow removal and plumbing work for some of his properties over the years, I always recognized him as one of the pioneers – like Willie Adams. For younger guys, he served as an inspiration – to see a guy like him at the top of his game was simply phenomenal.”
Marsha Jews, a media personality and art enthusiast told BMORENews, “I loved that man.” She added, “He was straight up, no chaser.”
Wayne Frazier, CEO of the Maryland-Washington Minority Companies Association, told BMORENews in an exclusive interview, “Otis Warren was Baltimore’s first big-time realtor in the 70s with his office located on Liberty Rd. in Randallstown.”
Frazier, a long-time businessman and advocate on behalf of Black-owned businesses, added, “He created an emulated real estate professional practice second to none. He also became the first African American to develop and own a downtown office building with long-term tenants. Much love and respect for his legacy and influence on real estate and professionals in the Baltimore area.”
According to former Baltimore City Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson, III, “Otis Warren was a real pioneer.”
He continued, “He learned the real estate business by paying attention to what was happening around him. We met on the corner of Edmondson and Poplar Grove as 13-year-olds selling the Afro and remained friends for 70 years. He wasn’t afraid to try new things and led the way in developing major projects like the adaptive reuse of the former Douglass High in Sandtown into housing.”
Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon also shared a thought on the legendary Warren. She said, “Otis Warren was a great pioneer who made a tremendous difference in the development community as well as mentored so many individuals who are now doing development in the City of Baltimore.” She added, “He was always a friend to those in leadership who wanted to make a difference for the citizens of Baltimore. His knowledge and commitment to Baltimore providing quality housing in neighborhoods that sometimes have been neglected. He took on the challenge to provide affordable housing to seniors and people of low income. His mastermind to create ways to provide home ownership to families in Walbrook Junction is just one example of one of his many projects. He laid down the foundation where his son, OT, is now the next generation who took the wheel and has been carrying on his father’s legacy. He was a true friend to many of us. His spirit lives in the hearts of many people he touched.”
THE OFFICIAL VERSION from OTISWARREN.com
Established in 1953, The Otis Warren Group is a third-generation family-led real estate firm headquartered in Baltimore, MD, dedicated to providing the highest level of quality and service in the areas of residential and commercial real estate development, management, sales, and leasing.
The Otis Warren Group consists of three professional components, enabling us to remain competitive in providing diverse real estate services: Otis Warren & Company (Development); Otis Warren Management Company (Property Management); and Otis Warren Real Estate Services (Commercial and Residential Real Estate Brokerage).
Since inception, our #1 goal has always been to exceed customer expectations with outstanding service and integrity. Backed by decades of experience, our team has the diversity of skills and expertise to oversee all aspects of both residential and commercial real estate projects, from the initial stages of development through long-term property management and brokerage.
Over the years, we have consistently achieved and maintained an impressive record of success, sustaining a healthy financial posture through fluctuations in the real estate market. The team at The Otis Warren Group has successfully financed, developed, and managed over 1.5 million square feet of property consisting of apartment buildings and single-family homes, as well as commercial and industrial buildings. Additionally, we have successfully developed student housing for the University of Maryland College Park and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
2013 MMHA Star Award – Silver Winner Otis Warren is proud to have been awarded the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, Inc. Silver Star Award. Since 1997, MMHA has recognized industry excellence at our annual Star Awards ceremony. The MMHA Star Awards are designed to honor members of the Association who exhibit the most outstanding and innovative properties and professionals in the Maryland multi-housing industry. All awards are based on nominations from the membership and are judged by a third-party.
Accountability • Truth • Best Practices
We are committed to our mission of Accountability, Truth, and Best Practices in all of our projects, from thought through completion. We practice the philosophy that real estate is not just about “bricks and mortar”—our goal is always to exceed customer expectations by providing exceptional service.