Reservoir Hill plaza may be renovated

September 23, 1992|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

Three historic apartment buildings in Reservoir Hill, under state control for the past year, may soon be turned over to one of four development groups that had offered to rehabilitate them for continued use by low-and moderate-income residents.

The four groups were among 11 that responded this summer to a request for proposals from developers capable of renovating the properties, known as Renaissance Plaza.

The buildings, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are: The Emersonian, a 62-unit building built in 1915, at 2502 Eutaw Place; The Esplanade, a 95-unit building built in 1912, at 2525 Eutaw Place; and Temple Gardens, a 154-unit building built in 1926, at 2601 Madison Ave.

All are technically still owned by Renaissance Plaza Limited Partnership, whose managing partner is John J. Kirlin of Kirlin Enterprises in Rockville.

But Renaissance Plaza defaulted on a $7 million loan from the state Community Development Administration more than a year ago. Its representatives agreed in August 1991 to let the Baltimore Circuit Court appoint a receiver for the buildings, said Sue Gregson, spokeswoman for Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development.

Ms. Gregson said the note has been assigned to the Maryland Housing Fund, a special state insurance fund, and Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan appointed FCI Receivership Corp. to serve as receiver for the properties.

FCI, an affiliate of the BSC Financial Group, has hired Monumental Management to serve as property manager for the three buildings and is evaluating the developers' proposals to try to help the state find a new owner.

"We would like to see the buildings totally rehabilitated," Ms. Gregson said. "We would like to see some of the units preserved for low-and moderate-income residents. And we want our money back. Those are our priorities."

Richard Gray, president of FCI, said his office narrowed the number of bidders from 11 to four after eliminating groups that were "non-responsive" to the terms of the offering prospectus. The request for proposals asked bidders to describe their experience with similar projects and to detail how they would rehabilitate the Reservoir Hill apartments and accommodate current residents.

Mr. Gray declined to identify any of the bidders but said he hopes to recommend one within 30 to 60 days to Judge Kaplan, who is presiding over the case.

He said he is also working to develop a financial plan for rehabilitating the three buildings and restoring them to full occupancy, as he has been authorized by the court to do. They are now 47 percent occupied.The residents range from senior citizens who have lived in the same apartment for 10 or 15 years to students and residents on a fixed income, Mr. Gray said.

Many of the residences have high ceilings, ornate moldings, parquet floors and other features that made them attractive to affluent Baltimoreans in the early decades of this century. The high ceilings and older mechanical systems make them costly to maintain and operate today.

According to Ms. Gregson, Mr. Kirlin's group borrowed $6.3 million from the state to acquire the buildings in 1984 and then borrowed $7 million in 1987 to refinance the original loan.

In lending the money, the state had required that 51 percent of the apartments be reserved for low- and moderate-income residents, she said.

Mr. Gray said the property manager is not accepting new residents but is working to make sure no residents with valid leases are displaced.

He said he hopes to work out a staged rehabilitation plan that minimizes disruption to residents.

By consolidating all of the residents into one or two buildings, the third could be freed up for reconstruction, he said. Once renovations are complete in one building, residents could move in and free up the other two buildings for repairs, Mr. Gray said.

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