City warns it'll close Bay Ride Gardens Owners given 5 days to start to fix hazards ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

February 25, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Annapolis city officials are threatening to condemn a dilapidated, low-income apartment complex if the owners do not begin correcting safety hazards in five days.

The city has given the group of investors that owns Bay Ridge Gardens a deadline of March 1 to start fixing faulty electrical wiring and some 600 other violations discovered during a two-month inspection.

This is the first time the city has threatened to condemn an apartment complex since it forced Boston Heights to close in 1989.

At Bay Ridge Gardens, loose plastic flaps in broken windows, metal stairs are rusting and electrical wiring has corroded.

"We have unsafe conditions there," said Russ Morgan, chief of the city Bureau of Inspections and Permits. "Band-Aid repairs are not acceptable at this point."

Cam Construction Co. of Timonium and John Pica Sr., the father of state Sen. John A. Pica Jr., D-Baltimore, are partners in the ownership group, Mr. Morgan said. They could not be reached yesterday for comment.

In December, inspectors found faulty plumbing and appliances, electrical hazards, outdated stoves and water-damaged ceilings.

Another management company has made basic repairs, from sweeping the stairwells clean to fixing leaking roofs. But city officials want an overhaul.

"We want them to go into each and every unit and fix what's wrong," said Mr. Morgan, who estimated the work could cost more than $2.25 million.

Alderman Theresa DeGraff, a Republican who represents the city's 7th Ward, calls the collection of low-rise brick buildings off Bay Ridge Avenue "unfit for habitation." Yesterday, she said that the city must take a hard line.

"If it's not done, the units won't get an occupancy permit," she said. "It's pretty obvious that the owners haven't put the money into this project. The outside is sad, and the insides are just unfit."

Shelter Properties Corp., a Baltimore company that specializes in turning around troubled low-income housing, took over the day-to-day management in August. But company officials have said it cannot make substantive repairs without help from the owners, Mr. Morgan said.

The owners are trying to line up federal housing loans to complete the work, he said.

Bay Ridge Gardens was a well-kept, stable community for several years after it was built in the late 1970s. But in the last decade, maintenance has slipped, and drug dealers have moved in.

"This place is bad," said a mother of two, who shares a cramped, two-bedroom unit with her sister-in-law and three more children. "The worst thing is the drug dealers. They have their music blasting all night, and we've got an 8-month-old baby we're trying to get to sleep."

She complained about broken heating vents and a stove that smells of gas.

If the city condemns the property, the owners would have to pay for relocating the families, Mr. Morgan said. The city also could assess fines of $50 per housing code violation.

In 1989, city inspectors uncovered 758 housing violations at Boston Heights after a fire killed five children there. With the city threatening condemnation, the owner evicted the last 68 families that November.

A nonprofit corporation refurbished the 159-unit complex with $9.7 million, renamed it Admiral Oaks, and reopened it last spring.

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