Ryland in Pigtown

April 26, 1994

The selection of Ryland Group and Otis Warren to build 113 townhouses on an eight-acre lot near the B&O Railroad Museum is some of the best news on Baltimore's housing front for a long time. The city is clearly taking no chances with this development and wants to make sure that it will be done right. That is the wise course.

It has taken too long for the city's development officials to recognize that the best way to make downtown living attractive is to provide buyers with a product that they want and that is offered everywhere in the suburbs. That means garages, optional fireplaces, decks and other such amenities.

The Ryland partnership's plan for the former Koppers foundry site calls for two- and three-story townhouses which have all these features plus a look that blends them architecturally into the neighborhood. Most of the demand for these units, which are priced under $110,000, will be from childless "households under age 35" or empty-nesters who are "interested in lifestyle more than shelter," according to the developers.

Redevelopment of the Koppers site has been a time-consuming process that has experienced many hiccups. Perhaps the wait was worth it because initial proposals suggested that this parcel -- quite unique in its large size this close to downtown -- be used for low-income housing.

Thanks to Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, an experienced developer himself, that idea was scrapped. "The city needs to build middle-income tax base, and this project goes a long way toward that," he explained.

The new Barre Station development is bounded by McHenry, Clifford, Poppleton and Scott streets. It will strengthen the adjoining Barre Circle homesteading community of century-old rowhouses, the Roundhouse Square development of 44 houses built in 1988 and a cluster of 10 houses built along Pratt Street last year.

Barre Station represents the biggest plunge so far into the Baltimore City market for Ryland, the nation's third largest homebuilder. Like a smaller project under construction in Federal Hill, this one will feature houses that have an old look but modern interior design and flow.

Despite their convenient location near two interstate highways, many of the Pigtown area neighborhoods have been struggling in recent years. The construction of Barre Station should give a boost to the whole area. We welcome it.

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