Senior housing planned for Cockeysville Elementary school will be renovated

January 18, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

A new public-private plan is under way to renovate the long-vacant Cockeysville Elementary School building on York Road for use as a senior center and housing for up to 108 senior citizens.

Three local partners have won sole negotiating rights to the 1926 stone building in the 10500 block of York Road, after responding to Baltimore County's request for proposals.

Under the tentative arrangement, the county would give up the old building, which it closed in 1981, provide $500,000 in federal block grant money for the project, and allow the new owners to pay a relatively low flat fee each year instead of higher property taxes.

In return, the private partners would install a small outdoor snack stand, bathrooms and some parking spaces for the playing fields, which would remain county property. The partners would build and operate a public senior center in the building at their own expense. In addition, elderly tenants in the building would pay less than market rents for the efficiency, one- and two-bedroom units planned.

Called Cockeysville Assisted Living Inc., the partnership proposing the new senior housing is composed of Charles J. Frank Inc., a Hunt Valley contractor; D'Aleo Inc., an architectural firm; and DCI Health Care Inc. of Columbia. DCI would operate the facility, according to Lisa Tomasetti, its president.

She said that nearly all tenants would pay less than market rents, depending on their income. The building would have a dining room for those who can't prepare their own meals or who want company at mealtime, and laundry and housekeeping services would be offered as well. Renovations could cost up to $6 million, the partners said.

County Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger is working with the contractors and county agencies to help get the project under way.

The 3rd District Democrat said after a meeting last Monday that senior assisted-living projects like this can show county residents that affordable housing is workable in Baltimore County.

Charles Frank said the partners are seeking federal insurance for the project from the department of Housing and Urban Development, a process that could take up to nine months. He said the specific financial arrangements with the county have not yet been negotiated.

The concept of affordable, assisted housing for senior citizens with limited incomes who are basically healthy, but may need some help with housekeeping or food preparation, is becoming more popular as the county's population ages and more people live into their 80s and 90s.

The Cockeysville school has been a problem for the county since it closed in June 1981. A complex attempt to find a private buyer for the building didn't work out in 1984, when the high bid was $450,000, far below the building's appraised value of $800,000.

The high bidder, moreover, was the Hannah More Center, which proposed relocating a school for emotionally troubled teen-agers -- an option that neighbors strongly resisted.

This time, the county had three bidders between July 2 and Sept. 14, the closing date for proposals.

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