Edward Smith set seemingly modest goals when he decided to buy his first home. He wanted it to be in the city, in move-in condition and, most of all, he wanted it to be affordable.
Now, three years later, Smith, an employee at Church Hospital, has found what he wanted. Smith is the first person to buy one of seven town homes being built on a long vacant lot in the 2300 block of McCulloh St., on the western fringe of Reservoir Hill.
"Affordability was the main thing that drew me here," said a beaming Smith. He joined Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and other city officials at a ceremony to celebrate the on-going construction of the homes.
"I also was happy to stay in the city. After five years of apartment dwelling, it was about time for me to buy something," Smith said.
The houses have three bedrooms, feature air conditioning and wall-to-wall carpeting, and are selling for $73,900. With the 5 percent mortgage available for buyers with incomes under $25,900, payments on the homes can be as low as $500 a month, developers say. The construction financing for the project came from the privately funded Baltimore Regional Community Development Corp.
"We have had a lot of interest in the homes," said Joan Ewing, director of marketing for the Baltimore Corporation for Housing Partnerships, a the non-profit group that is building the homes.
The 5-year-old BCHP specializes in developing housing affordable for low- and middle-income people. The group has developed 350 housing units and currently is renovating a 24-unit cooperative apartment building in the 2200 block of Park Ave., also in Reservoir Hill.
"We do a mix of new construction and renovation, and we do a lot of in-fill projects" to complete blocks of housing, said Patricia Massey, executive director of BCHP. "A project like this is too small for a for-profit developer. But we can take more risks than a for-profit outfit."
All of the partnership's housing developments are done in the city, a place some home buyers are said to shy away from because of poor schools, high taxes and crime. But Massey said many of her group's clients want to be in the city because of the ease of transportation, their family connections, and the rTC amenities and overall convenience offered by in-town living.
"We find that people want to live in Baltimore neighborhoods," Massey said. "We find people respond to our projects."