Concord Fields town houses get new lease on life HARFORD COUNTY

February 14, 1993|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

Fifty years ago Concord Fields was a vibrant residential community in the historic town of Havre de Grace.

Over the years the neighborhood -- built by the federal government in the early 1940s to house the workers who poured into the Aberdeen Proving Ground during World War II -- began to deteriorate, to the point where it had become a haven for drug traffickers.

Three months ago, Stanley S. Lewis, a managing director of the Baltimore-based mortgage banking firm American National Capital Corp., arrived and brought with him dramatic changes, including $1 million for improvements.

Mr. Lewis has been mandated by Freddie Mac Corp., a U.S. government money-lending agency for multifamily dwellings, to upgrade the 246-unit community. The development is owned by Baltimore-based Concord Fields Limited Partnership, whose mortgage is held by First National Bank of Maryland and the Freddie Mac Corp.

jTC "This is a privately owned housing community which gives us the right to rent to whomever we feel meets established standards," said the bespectacled Mr. Lewis. "And, when we determine a tenant is not complying with lease agreements, we evict. It's as simple as that."

Application forms ask for such information as the names of frequent guests, and guest passes must be picked up at the management office. They must be presented on demand to employees of Concord Fields and to the police.

Vacant units have been boarded up and renters who had broken the terms of their leases have been evicted.

About 80 units will be refurbished with new and freshly painted walls and ceilings, wall-to-wall carpeting, remodeled bathrooms and roomy kitchen cabinets. The cost of will be about $1,000 per unit.

Occupants of the other 166 units can have their homes improved also. "Current residents have the option to have their unit remodeled," said Mr. Lewis. "They will pay only what we paid for the material. We are not seeking to make a profit from people who want to improve their units."

The exterior of the development has taken on a new appearance. Exteriors have been painted, the aluminum siding has been cleaned, and all alleys and parking areas have been paved. Over the next several months at least one playground will be added, sidewalks will be built and the entire community will get exterior lighting.

Quality of life is a big issue for residents, according to Mr. Lewis. Several activities are planned, including courtyard parties, he said.

Two residents excited by the arrival of Mr. Lewis are Virginia Stansbury and Silver Bull. Both have lived in Concord Fields, just blocks from the banks of the Chesapeake Bay and next to property that once housed the popular Havre de Grace Race Track, since 1942. The buildings were new, the streets were clean, neighbors were friendly and there were flowers everywhere, they said.

They said they no longer fear for their safety. The loud, taunting crowds that used to assemble in several areas are gone and many of the "problem units" are now vacant.

"Mr. Lewis has been working hard getting this neighborhood cleaned up," said the 67-year-old Mr. Bull from the tiny kitchen of the two-bedroom house he now shares with his widowed sister, Isabel Peeples. "He stops by and always asks how we are and wants to know if there is anything else he can do to make it better. He really cares.

"I was 17 when my family moved into this house. Everyone was friendly. Neighbors helped neighbors. Maybe it was a sense of unity brought on by the war."

It's a return to that sense of unity that Mrs. Stansbury would welcome.

"Oh, how I remember the flowers," said Mrs. Stansbury, who was just 20-years-old when she came to live with her uncle, Moses Warfield. "It was just such a pretty place." Next month, the public will be invited to tour the new Tranquillity Townhouses at Concord Fields. Mr. Lewis will be on hand to accept applications from tenants.

The monthly rental for the one-, two- and three-bedroom units range from $300 to $350. According to Mr. Lewis, the rental for the renovated units will range from $350 to $500.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.