A new builder plans to complete the half-finished Village at Homeland, a 120-unit townhouse community whose previous builder ran into financial problems and stopped work more than a year ago.
Richmond American Homes of Maryland Inc. has negotiated a contract with Loyola Federal Savings Bank to buy 66 lots and plans to begin building townhouses on them in February, according to President Thomas Pellerito.
Loyola took control of the unfinished portions of the nine-acre parcel -- in the 400 block of Homeland Avenue -- after foreclosing on the previous developer, a group headed by Jack Steffey. Its LTC transaction with Richmond American does not involve another 54 houses that were already finished -- and are now mostly occupied.
Built on the former site of a Jos. A. Bank Clothiers manufacturing center, the Village at Homeland was one of the best-selling residential developments in Baltimore when it opened in the late 1980s. The Tudoresque design by Ziger, Hoopes & Snead won && both local awards and a national award of excellence from the National Association of Home Builders.
The sales pace slowed when the previous developer could not deliver houses as fast as the buyers wanted, and it was further slowed by the recession.
Mr. Pellerito said Richmond American will follow the original site plan and exterior design, in compliance with a city-approved development plan.
He said Richmond American will modify the interior designs to incorporate three of its own floor plans, which have been successful in other subdivisions.
Prices will start at $127,900 for the majority of the three-story residences and $133,900 for end units. The houses range in size from 1,440 to 1,584 square feet, and standard features include three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a fireplace and a one-car garage.
Mr. Pellerito said he expected most of the houses to sell for $130,000 to $140,000 after buyers add upgrades and options -- making the total investment in the site more than $8.5 million.
Residents will be able to use a pool and clubhouse that are already on the site.
Mr. Pellerito said he expects many of the residents to be first-time buyers and professionals moving up from condominiums.
"We think it will be very successful," he said. "We feel that it's a unique location, and there aren't a great deal of houses like that available. This is an opportunity for us to build a product that is in high demand, and that demand is not being satisfied because there isn't much property available."
With regional offices in Fairfax, Va., Richmond American constructs 3,000 to 5,000 houses a year around the country. Other Maryland projects include the townhouses at Riverchase, near Catonsville; and luxury detached homes at Hunt Ridge North near Hunt Valley; and Seminary Overlook off Seminary Road in Baltimore County.
The Village at Homeland marks the company's first venture in the city of Baltimore.
Mr. Pellerito said the project appealed to Richmond American because of its location, which is close to downtown Baltimore and Towson, its design and its price structure.
"We've been interested in this property for close to six months," Mr. Pellerito said. "Close-in locations that are well priced are doing extremely well."
He declined to disclose the terms of his financial agreement with Loyola except to say that the bank will finish the lots and sell them four to six at a time, as construction begins, to help the builder keep upfront land costs to a minimum. Richmond American will also save time and money on pre-development costs because the plans are already in place and approved by the city, he said.
The builder will open a sales trailer on the site Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. and will keep it open daily from then on, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Furnished models will open in the spring, and initial buyers will be able to take occupancy of their residences at the same time.
Mr. Pellerito said the construction pace will depend on sales and that he hopes to have all 66 townhouses complete within two years.
He added that he doesn't believe the previous builder's problems will hurt Richmond American's sales effort.
"Our objective is to deliver a good quality product at a good value," he said, "and then we won't have any shortage of buyers."