Inspectors cite Bay Ridge Gardens Eastport complex called 'not fit for habitation' ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY--Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

January 07, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Annapolis inspectors have uncovered some 600 housing violations at Bay Ridge Gardens, a low-income apartment complex in Eastport struggling to overcome years of neglect.

A new management company that took over the dilapidated housing development in August has made basic repairs, from fixing leaking roofs to sweeping the stairwells clean. But city housing inspectors are calling for an overhaul.

"Band-Aid-type of work will not suffice," said Russell Morgan, chief of the city's Bureau of Inspections and Permits.

All 198 apartments had faulty plumbing fixtures and appliances, housing officials found during a two-month inspection finished Dec. 9. Inspectors also found faulty electrical wiring and related hazards, water-damaged ceilings and unsafe stairs, Mr. Morgan said.

Alderman Theresa DeGraff, a Republican who represents the city's 7th Ward, which includes Bay Ridge Gardens, called the collection of low-rise brick buildings "not fit for habitation."

The city has requested a renovation plan by Monday and threatened to condemn the property if repairs are not made quickly enough.

"The bottom line is this is not a situation where some minor repairs need to be made," Ms. DeGraff said yesterday. "These buildings need to be rehabilitated -- inside and out."

A group of investors owns the complex off Bay Ridge Avenue, which was built in 1971 with low-interest federal loans under a program designed to increase the nation's stock of affordable housing.

For many years, young families and seniors living on fixed incomes moved into Bay Ridge Gardens. But over time, the stable, well-kept community deteriorated and developed a history for housing violations.

"The project has had continued problems," Mr. Morgan said. "We've been working with them for the past several years to try to get things resolved, but we're just sort of at the end of our patience with all the things that still need to be done."

Shelter Properties Corp., a Baltimore company that specializes in turning around troubled low-income housing, has taken over the day-to-day management. The group's nonprofit branch, the Shelter Foundation, wants to buy the complex, said Pearl Bowden, the property manager.

Ms. Bowden said the company recognizes that the property needs more than quick-fix repairs, and said she's working closely with city officials to develop a renovation program.

"We've made a lot of repairs before the housing inspectors came," she said. "We repaired leaky roofs, did some gutters and had a big cleanup."

Residents have praised the efforts made so far. Mothers stroll with babies where drug dealers once sold crack cocaine to a steady stream of customers.

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