Odenton/Crofton area is leader in Baltimore region

ONE HOT HOUSING MARKET

September 20, 1992|By Audrey Haar | Audrey Haar,Staff Writer

The Odenton/Crofton area of Anne Arundel County has been dubbed the "hottest in the Baltimore Region" by the Legg Mason Realty Group Inc., which tracks the regional housing market for builders, developers and financial institutions.

Strong sellers in this new hot area are single-family detached homes going for an average base price of $206,000, according to the Legg Mason report.

In most new-home communities closer to Baltimore, houses in the $200,000 price range are often the ones labeled hard to move.

Odenton/Crofton grabbed 17 percent of the region's new-home sales in the second quarter of 1992, and sales in the area for the first half of this year are ahead by 233 homes compared with the first half of last year, Legg Mason said.

"Crofton has had tremendous growth," says Edward Griemsmann, sales manager for the Odenton office of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn Realtors.

With most of the new homes in the area appealing to the trade-up market, Mr. Griemsmann attributes the sales increase to prices having stabilized or declined. In addition, he said, individual home sellers have become more realistic about prices, so they are able to sell their old homes.

Also, "Odenton is finally getting some respect," Mr. Griemsmann said. "It had a difficult image with Fort Meade."

PD In recent years, the military base has shifted its function to a

military administrative center from its previous job of training troops for battle.

Part of the base's face lift is the demolition of World War II-era barracks. So far, 200 have been torn down, and 400 more are scheduled to come down over the next couple of years.

A multiservice post, Fort Meade houses workers from several branches of the Defense Department, with about 28,000 civilian workers and 10,000 military, according to Don McClow, spokesman for Fort Meade.

Fort Meade is also waiting for an announcement from the military about housing a proposed Defense Information School.

The building in the Odenton area is concentrated in three planned unit developments -- Russett Center, Piney Orchard and Seven Oaks -- within a radius of about seven miles.

The Odenton area sat dormant during the building boom of the mid-1980s because of a ban on new construction until sewer capacity was increased.

In the past few years, Odenton has been making up for lost time.

Russett Center, a 3,500-unit development between Route 198 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, has sold about 300 homes since opening last year.

One-quarter of the housing at Russett will be detached residences ranging in price from about $160,000 to $320,000. Forty percent will be town houses ranging in price from about $120,000 to $150,000, and 35 percent of the units will be condominiums and rental apartments.

Sales of the single-family homes have been surprisingly strong, according to Marshall Zinn, vice president of Curtis F. Peterson Inc., developers of the project.

Mr. Zinn said that his company originally planned to sell the HTC single-family homes in the $180,000-to-$210,000 price range, but that sales of homes between $250,000 and $300,000 have been better than they expected.

Across Route 175 from Fort Meade is Seven Oaks. Since opening in 1990, 450 homes have been sold, and 280 apartments have been rented. Development plans call for 4,767 units.

At Seven Oaks, detached homes are selling from about $160,000 to $250,000, and town houses are selling for $115,000 to $165,000.

Not far from Seven Oaks is Piney Orchard, a 1,200-acre development near Route 175. Since opening at the end of 1990, 320 homes out of 4,200 have been sold. Single-family homes sell from $170,000 to $220,000. Town houses go for $120,000 to $140,000.

Chapman Farm, a recent entry to the area, is a 163-acre development that will have 468 single-family homes. Three builders have put up about 60 detached homes priced from $175,000 to $220,000.

"Crofton is the leading sales area for the region," says Stephen Eckert, president of Classic Community Corp., the Bethesda-based developers of Chapman Farm.

"We are pleased with the market activity," he said. "Crofton has continued to do well through the recession."

Chapman Farm until recent years was a working farm. The farm was established in 1917 by Joseph Riedel, an immigrant from Dresden, Germany. It was a tobacco farm until about 1949, said Ray Chapman, who inherited it from his father-in-law.

After tobacco, Mr. Chapman said, he switched to growing corn and soybeans and raising Black Angus cattle until he sold the farm in 1988 to retire with his wife, Erna, and sister-in-law to a retirement community in Annapolis.

In the early 1960s, Crofton was mostly woods until W. Hamilton Crawford came from Alabama to develop it, Mr. Chapman said. It was then that Crofton attracted workers who commuted to Washington.

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