Pigtown site to get 113 townhouses

April 22, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

A suburban builder with an eye on the city will team with a Baltimore developer to build middle-income housing on one of downtown's last large open parcels, a vacant industrial site in Pigtown.

City housing officials yesterday chose partners Ryland Group Inc. and developer Otis Warren over two other developers to build 113 townhouses on the 8-acre, city-owned site, the former Koppers Co. property, bounded by McHenry, Clifford, Poppleton and Scott streets.

Ryland's financial strength and marketing ability gave it an edge over the other bidders, said housing officials, who had requested proposals for the long-vacant site in hopes of drawing and

retaining middle-income residents in the city.

"It's a major development," said Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III. "A couple of years ago, the proposals we were seeing from developers were for low-income projects. The city also needs to build middle-income tax base, and this project goes a long way toward that."

The project in the mainly blue-collar community in Southwest Baltimore will be the third in the city for Columbia-based Ryland, the nation's third-largest homebuilder. The builder broke into the urban market last year with plans for 42 townhouses in Federal Hill and has also been chosen to take over the second phase of development at Coldspring New Town.

Mr. Warren, a residential and commercial developer teaming up with Ryland on the $11.3 million, three-year project, said the partners hope to start construction this fall and believe they can build and sell 30 to 40 homes a year priced in the low $100,000 range.

"I'm anticipating rapid sales," Mr. Warren said yesterday. "This is the same type of product Ryland has out in the counties, the same quality with some modifications. This product has been needed downtown."

The development near the B&O Railroad Museum, to be called Barre Station, will be a "community where people have the feeling of being part of the community but have exclusive areas and safety and comfort," Mr. Warren said.

"We plan to have it integrated and plan to give people who purchase a feeling of security. It wouldn't work if it didn't feel part of the total community."

In an economically depressed neighborhood, where homes have sold in the $40,000-to-$60,000 range -- but where renovated homes have sold for $90,000 or more -- hope of renewal has long been linked to the prospect of redevelopment of the Koppers property, which has sat fenced-in, mostly vacant and overgrown since a 1986 fire.

Since then, community associations have been working to encourage redevelopment that would blend into their neighborhood, build on the success of other redevelopment projects and infuse a depressed commercial district with new customers.

"We're glad that the Koppers lot is going to be used -- it's been a long time," said Doc Godwin, president of the Hearts of Pigtown community association.

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