Lafayette high-rises to be replaced

October 22, 1994|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

The city will demolish all six Lafayette Courts high-rises, replacing them and 13 other apartment buildings with traditional Baltimore rowhouses -- part of a plan to revive the public housing development and blend it into the surrounding community.

City-hired designers this week displayed the most detailed plans to date for redeveloping the 800-unit East Baltimore complex. The rebuilt complex will have 460 units, about half of them rowhouses.

Although the original proposal called for one high-rise to be remodeled into a senior citizens home, plans now call for a new building with 196 one-bedroom apartments for elderly residents. Four of the 17 low-rises will be renovated, according to plans shown to the Design Advisory Panel, which advises the city's housing commissioner.

The plan, developed by Silver Spring-based CHK Architects and Planners Inc., also calls for short-term housing for unwed mothers, a recreation center and a day care center.

The buildings, streets and walkways will be arranged to harmonize with existing city streets and surrounding neighborhoods, instead of being angled inward and physically separated, planners said.

Residents of Lafayette Courts can't wait to see the high-rises demolished and replaced with the two-story rowhouses, which will feature stoops and fenced-in back yards.

"We're glad to see that the high-rises are coming down, because we were stacked on top of each other," said Yvonne Slater, who has seven children and has lived in a Lafayette Courts high-rise for five years.

Residents say the rowhouse design also will remove the stigma associated with public housing.

The proposed development is "like a community and not a project," said Frances Reives, 69, who has lived in the development for 40 years. "When you live in the low-rises, it's more like a home setting."

The presentation before the panel was one step in a process that ultimately will require City Council approval.

The city won a $49.6 million federal grant for the redevelopment in December. At the time, Mr. Henson said demolition of the high-rises would begin late this year. But yesterday he said demolition would not begin until spring.

Residents could move into the new Lafayette Courts 2 1/2 years after demolition begins, he said.

During demolition and construction, residents will be moved to other public housing units; some will have the option of moving back to Lafayette Courts.

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