Bloomsbury Square is safe -- for now
A state House Appropriations subcommittee has cut Gov. William Donald Schaefer's request for $3.5 million to buy the Annapolis housing project, which the state has wanted to buy for more than 20years. Tuesday's vote postpones the sale for at least a year.
"I feel good," said Elsie Clark, 88, who has lived in Bloomsbury Square since 1950. "I don't feel like moving nowhere. It'd be a shameto sell it, after they fixed it up all nice, and tear it down for parking. But they'll be back again next year. That Schaefer, with laying people off and being in debt, I don't know how he could scrape together the money to buy this place."
The state had hoped to raze Bloomsbury Square to expand the nearby House of Delegates Lowe Office Building and build a parking garage. Delegate Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore, chairman of the subcommittee, had favored buying Bloomsbury Square until he received a letter from Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, informing him that tenants opposed the sale.
Annapolis Housing Authority officials had said they would sell the project only if tenants approved of the sale and it led to homeownership for some public housing residents. In interviews earlier this year, most BloomsburySquare residents opposed to the sale.
Despite the vote, Housing Authority officials are seeking other funding so they can build single-family homes anyway.
"It's absolutely essential," said Deputy Housing Authority Director Roger "Pip" Moyer. "If anything, we need about 30 individual homes so our best tenants can move in and put their rent money toward a mortgage."
The state last tried to buy Bloomsbury Square in 1987. That effort ended in a federal lawsuit and a judge's order that 21 of the project's 51 units be renovated. The renovations cost more than $2 million and were completed last year.
Tenants alleged in the lawsuit that shutting down the city's only downtown project would lead to more city housing segregation.