More apartments are being converted

March 24, 1991|By Edward Gunts

The Ridgemede and the Ridgewood, companion apartmen buildings in the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, are being converted to Baltimore's newest condominium complex.

The Tudor Revival structures, at 221 and 310 Ridgemede Road, contain 70 residences and are the latest of several apartment buildings near the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus to undergo conversion in recent years. Others include the Berkeley condominiums at 102 W. 39th St., the Dundee Condominiums at 3902 Canterbury Road, and the Canterbury Square condominiums at 101 W. 39th St.

The developer of the Ridgemede Road project is Woodmede Associates Inc., a local group headed by managing partner Robert Kirwan of Baltimore. He said his group acquired the buildings in early 1989 from Kenilworth Equities for a price between $3 million and $4 million.

Mr. Kirwan said he expects the residences to sell well in a "down market" because many people who may be unable to afford a detached home or a town house still may be able to afford a condominium.

In addition, the Ridgemede and Ridgewood have an Old World ambience and are situated close to the Hopkins campus, Linkwood Park and neighborhoods such as Guilford and Roland Park.

"They've always been a well-kept secret," he said. "There was never more than one vacancy at a time. If you pick up any of the [trade] journals with articles about what homebuyers want these days, they all say buyers want value, not frills. That's exactly what these offer."

Prices for the condominiums range from $49,900 for a small one-bedroom unit to $199,000 for a three-bedroom, 3-bathroom unit.

They were built by Thomas P. Mullan, a well-known local builder also responsible for the Ambassador, the Carlton and the 3900 building, among other Baltimore apartment

projects. Mr. Mullan lived in the Ridgewood for many years.

The five-story Ridgemede dates from 1939, while the four-story Ridgewood dates from 1965. Because both have a similar exterior, Mr. Kirwan said, most people don't realize they were built so many years apart.

Improvements to the buildings include asbestos removal, new mechanical systems and cosmetic upgrades in the hallways and lobbies, as well as a new furnace and elevator in the Ridgemede.

Deborah Ketcham and Barbara Goldberg of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn Realtors are the listing agents. A sales center is open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Mr. Kirwan and Ms. Ketcham said they expect the residences to appeal to people affiliated with Hopkins, young professionals just starting out in the housing market, investors or empty nesters who want to be in the Tuscany-Canterbury area. So far, 14 of the 70 units are under contract, and Loyola Federal Savings and Loan is providing financing.

"Interest rates are lower than they have been and prices are realistic." Ms. Ketcham said. "I don't think we could have come in the market at a better time."

Real estate agents say some earlier condominium conversions in the Hopkins area have been successful because they provided an alternative to the two new condominiums on the market, the Colonnade and the St. James, where many units are priced at $200,000 or more.

Some buyers who toured those luxury buildings, agents say, may have looked at the conversions as well and discovered that they had units in essentially the same location but at more affordable prices.

Mr. Kirwan said he is so happy with the area and the initial reception to the Ridgemede-Ridgewood project that he has launched another condominium conversion nearby. It is the Millbrook House, a seven-unit apartment building at 4210 N. Charles St.

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