Apartment complex for elderly welcomed in Park Heights

October 31, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

A $5.3 million, 84-unit apartment complex planned for the Park Heights community should provide a safe haven for the elderly, while replacing a neighborhood eyesore with an attractive building. For Jean Yarborough, it also offers a nearby place to talk about coal stoves.

"I'm tickled to death," Mrs. Yarborough, the president of a neighborhood association, said of plans to build the senior citizen complex on the former site of a motel.

"The other day I was telling my children about a coal stove and how we had to shake the furnace down," she said last week, describing how people used to keep their homes warm through the night. "They don't remember things like that. When you're with your peers, you have these kinds of memories to share."

The project, in the 5400 block of Park Heights Ave., caps years of lobbying by neighborhood activists.

The complex will be on a site that once held a block-long building that housed the Pimlico Center. The building, vacant about six years, was a target of vandals, and community leaders considered it an eyesore. The building originally was a Holiday Inn, in the 1960s and 1970s, then an apartment building.

Its demolition in October 1993 -- after four years of pressure on City Hall -- was viewed as a symbol of hope for reviving the Park Heights Avenue commercial corridor, which stretches from Garrison Boulevard to Northern Parkway.

Last week, the city planning commission approved two City Council bills paving the way for construction of the affordable-housing complex.

"We will have something that looks nice, has a nice ambience," said Mrs. Yarborough. "People are going to feel safe."

The T-shaped building of one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors is being developed by the Baltimore Housing Partnership and the Renaissance Economic Development Project, a Park Heights group.

It will include a community room, reception area, laundry room and craft room.

The venture is seeking city, state and federal money and foundation grants, said project manager Kelly Little. He said residents probably would pay about $300 a month in rent.

The bills endorsed by the Planning Commission are subject to the approval of the City Council.

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