TANEYTOWN — In August, Isabelle and Charles Poole moved to the newly remodeled Central Hotel, and they say they couldn't be happier with their new digs.
The Pooles live in a spacious one-bedroom apartment on the first floor at the building, which is one of five Carroll apartment complexes for seniors citizens and disabled residents.
"We were living in Pennsylvania in a two-bedroom trailer, which was costing us $450 for rent, plus we paid for our own electricity, water, sewer, trash collection and telephone," said Isabelle Poole, 66.
The Central Hotel has 19 one-bedroom apartments on three floors. Two first-floor apartments designed for disabled residents have rampsand handicapped-accessible bathrooms and kitchens.
The Pooles, who manage the building, are pleased with their monthly rent of $460, the standard for units in the Central Hotel. All utilities except telephone and cable TV are included.
"It is really quite nice," she said. "All the appliances come with the apartment, and there is a laundromat in nearby Taneytown Shopping Center."
The renovation of the Taneytown landmark was undertaken by the building's owner, James Sturgill, who purchased the hotel in 1989.
"I knew at that time that Ihad planned to make it into a home for the elderly," said Sturgill, a 50-year-old accountant and Westminster resident. "There are waitinglists for elderly housing in the county, and I find that the elderlyput less wear and tear on the apartments."
The Central Hotel has been a part of Taneytown since it was built in 1902. The hotel originally served as a haven for travelers between York, Pa., and Frederick.
Over the years, the building at York and Baltimore streets has been home to a shopping center, a barbershop, a meat market, a photo store and a restaurant. More recently the hotel housed apartments on the top two floors and the Old Hotel Dining Room on the lower level.
"I thought the building had a lot of character, and I knew that it could be redone in a manner that would make it last another 100 years," Sturgill said.
The six-month renovation cost $364,000 and transformed 29 original units into 19 roomier apartments.
However, units are not filling as quickly as Sturgill would have liked. But he remains optimistic that all the apartments will be rented before long. The Taneytown City Council recently approved a request to allow residents other than seniors to rent units on the third floor and part of the second floor.
Sharon Baker, client services supervisor for the county Bureau of Aging said senior residential apartments are beneficial because they offer a sense of community.
"There is also a sense of security and stability since the building has been designated for seniors," she said. "They are secure about the fact that the building will not be torn down."
The senior complexes also offer some special services that keep seniors from feeling isolated, Baker said. In Carroll, staff members from the Senior Information and Assistance Program visit each complex once a month to update residents about programs offered by the aging bureau.
In addition to the Central Hotel, four other senior residential apartment complexes operate in Carroll, offering people older than 65 and those who are disabled or handicapped an opportunity to continue to live independently but securely. Two examples in Westminster are Locust House on Locust Street and theTimber Ridge Apartments on Bishop Street.
Katherine Ambrose has been living in Locust House for the past five years.
"I wouldn't live anywhere else," said the 75-year-old Ambrose. "We can get to Main Street by walking. And if we need to go anywhere else to shop, the bus comes and takes us to the shopping centers every day but Sunday."
Dorothy Blumberg, 68, has lived in Timber Ridge Apartments for 10 years and likes the senior community.
"It's a really nice place I have here," she said of her one-bedroom apartment.
Locust House has99 one-bedroom apartments, while Timber Ridge has 100 apartments. Spencer Village in Eldersburg has eight two-bedroom and 32 one-bedroom apartments, while Ridgely House in Hampstead has 49 one-bedroom units.
All the complexes, except the Central Hotel, have waiting lists.Locust House has a five-year wait, while the wait at Timber Ridge isthree years. At Spencer Village, the wait is five years for one-bedroom units and about four years for two-bedroom apartments. In 1990, Ridgely House had a five-year waiting list.
The rents for Locust House, Timber Ridge and 32 units of Ridgely House are government-subsidized, with seniors paying about 30 percent of their adjusted gross income. Spencer Village requires $275 for one-bedroom units and $308 for two-bedroom apartments. The rents at Locust House, Spencer Village and Ridgely House do not include utilities.