HAVRE DE GRACE -- Now that the newness has worn off and buyers are settling into Canvasback Cove, a condominium project in Havre de Grace, developers and longtime residents are breathing cautious sighs of relief.
The modern blue and white condos of Canvasback Cove lie at the foot of Revolution Street on prime waterfront property along the Susquehanna River. The project claimed one of the few remaining parcels of real estate left on the water.
And the three-story condos themselves are vastly different from the 18th century Victorian homes that line the streets of this small, historic town.
So it was with some trepidation that residents of Havre de Grace watched the project, developed by MPW Cos. of Allamuchy, N.J., open in May 1989.
Yet, according to town officials, businesses and the vice president of MPW Cos., Canvasback Cove has become a good neighbor and is considered a welcome addition to Havre de Grace.
"It looks more like a community down here now," said Janet McDonald, spokeswoman for Citizens Nursing Home on Market Street, which faces the development.
"There are more things going on, more activity. I think it's added to the appearance around the water. They are very pretty condos, and we can still view the water, especially from the second floor."
Stan Ruchlewicz, Havre de Grace director of planning since December 1989 and previously its city planner, said Canvasback Cove seems to have improved the climate for development in Havre de Grace.
"Canvasback Cove must have done something," he said, "because at Pennington Avenue and Greene Street, behind the old Seneca plant, a developer is putting in Seneca Point," a 56-unit condominium project.
Much of the land along the Susquehanna River has been preserved through Maryland's Program Open Space, or now belongs to a museum or marina. Mr. Ruchlewicz acknowledged that Havre de Grace doesn't have much room left for new development.
But he said he thinks the community supports the idea of new projects like Canvasback Cove. "It has been pretty well received," he said. "There are a bunch of doctors [with offices] nearby and they are already talking to the developer about buying units for their residences."
Joe Kochenderfer, a member of the Havre de Grace City Council, said he has heard few negative comments about Canvasback Cove.
"I have heard that people hate to see the view cut off," he said. "But the way I look at it, it is their property, and they can do what they want with it," within the city's zoning requirements.
Paul Hiester is manager and chef of the Crazy Swede Restaurant, a popular gathering place for Havre de Grace locals, boaters and tourists. He said most people seem to like the development.
"They like to be able to put their sailboats in there," Mr. Hiester said. "They like the location, they like the way they're around the water. But there are always some people who don't want this town to grow."
An eight-year resident of Havre de Grace, Mr. Hiester said he is not opposed to Canvasback Cove, or further growth, as long as it is controlled. "I lived outside of Washington for years, and I've seen [rapid growth] happen in too many small towns," he said.
Joe Sweeney, a spokesman for MPW Cos., said the development firm has tried to involve itself with the community and make Canvasback Cove a good neighbor. Mr. Sweeney said MPW is a sponsor of the annual Havre de Grace Decoy Festival, held every May. When the land was being developed, MPW Cos. also covered the cost of relocating the nearby nursing home's helicopterpad, Mr. Sweeney said.
"I don't see the town holding parades for us, but they have reacted positively to us," said Tom Dillon, MPW Cos. vice president. "Many people have moved there to make Canvasback Cove a permanent home."
He acknowledged that most of the purchasers plan to use the condos as second homes.
"This is the first piece of water that people from beyond Philadelphia and other areas can really get to, and we thought we would find people from those areas coming down to buy," he said. "But we also have locals and people from other parts of Maryland."
Canvasback Cove features two-story units with enclosed garages below. Some homes have private boat slips. Units range from 960 to 1,200 square feet. Prices range from $129,000 to $197,900.
When Canvasback Cove is completed, Mr. Dillon said, 111 two-bedroom units will face the Susquehanna River. Thus far, 41 units are sold.
"We said we'd be complete by the summer of 1992. We're on schedule," he said. "The marina is all complete.