Affordable housing developer picked pTC 54 town houses to be built at 2 sites

July 28, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

The Howard County Housing Commission has chosen a local development group to build 54 townhouses for moderate-income families and first-time homebuyers.

The commission selected the team of Orchard Development Corp. of Ellicott City, Ryland Homes of Columbia and Unified Resources, a group of minority investors, to develop the new homes.

Two other developers -- Bozzuto and Associates, a Greenbelt-based developer, and the Enterprise Social Investment Corp., a subsidiary of the Enterprise Foundation, the nationally known Columbia-based developer of affordable housing -- also competed to build the project .

"I think our whole team is real anxious to build a project that we'll be proud of and that the Housing Commission and the county will be proud of," said Orchard Development president Earl Armiger.

The winning proposal calls for building the project at two sites. A complex of 30 rental town houses, called Orchard Crossing, would be built on two acres behind the Oakland Ridge Industrial Center off Route 108 in Columbia. They would be on the same site as the Orchard Crossing Apartments, a 187-unit garden apartment complex that Orchard Development plans to build this fall.

Twenty-four town houses, to be sold to first-time homebuyers, would be built on a site off Rowanberry Drive in Elkridge as part of the Orchard Club condominiums, a Ryland project already under construction.

The $4.5 million to $5.5 million project, to be financed with state and county money, will be targeted at families earning between $20,000 and $35,000 a year. According to commission guidelines, the town houses must have at least three bedrooms, and two-thirds of the development must be for rental housing, while one-third may be offered for sale.

"What really carried the decision for Orchard Development was their proposal to build all 54 units, beginning almost immediately, and their cost per unit was the lowest of the three bids," said Housing Commission Chairman James C. Landerkin.

Orchard Development's per unit cost came in at $87,694, while Bozzuto and Associates proposed a 42-unit project at $97,908 each and the Enterprise Social Investment Corp. bid a 54-unit project at $110,000 per unit, Mr. Landerkin said.

To finance the project, the commission plans to apply to the state's Community Development Administration to cover approximately $3 million in development costs and $1.5 million in mortgage assistance. The county will contribute between $900,000 and $1 million to the project, said Leonard S. Vaughan, the county's housing director.

In addition to submitting the lowest bid, the Orchard Development team proposed the shortest construction schedule of the three developers. According to its proposal, construction can begin this fall and should be finished in five months.

Mr. Landerkin said the commission hopes to do one or two similar projects each year to help meet the county's affordable housing needs as stated in the 1990 General Plan. The plan calls for the production of 267 units of low- and moderate-income housing a year, most to come from the purchase of existing units by the housing commission, which would then be offered for sale or rent to qualified families.

Mr. Landerkin said that cost wasn't the deciding factor in the selection process and that the commission also considered the suitability of the site, the developer's experience in producing affordable housing and its ability to complete the development within two years.

In 1991 Orchard Development built the 196-unit Orchard Club apartment complex in Elkridge, which features a mix of units for low- and moderate-income households and units with no income restrictions.

The developer is seeking final state approval to build Orchard Crossing, another apartment complex with both market-rate and low- and moderate-income units.

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