City plans renovation of housing units Overhaul of apartments, rowhouses aims to replace Lafayette Courts

January 04, 1996|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

Five months after tearing down a huge, decrepit high-rise project, Baltimore is moving to replace some of the housing for poor families elsewhere by renovating vacant rowhouses and a rundown apartment complex.

Yesterday, the Board of Estimates approved creating 13 public housing units as part of a $2.5 million overhaul of an apartment complex in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

The step is part of a broad redevelopment plan to provide new subsidized and market-rate rental housing for low-income families.

"Our goal is not to overwhelm communities like they used to with these huge public housing communities," said Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III.

Baltimore demolished Lafayette Courts, a worn, 40-year-old high-rise development that was home to 807 families, in August. The families were resettled in rented homes and other public housing communities across the city.

On the 21.5-acre Lafayette Courts campus behind the main Post Office in East Baltimore, the city plans to rebuild 228 rowhouses, a 110-unit apartment building for the elderly, a health clinic and day care center.

The dramatic reduction in density means 433 residences have to be replaced. Some will be built elsewhere in Baltimore. But families also could move to the surrounding suburbs with rental certificates under a controversial proposed settlement of a desegregation lawsuit.

In Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello, the city has hired the French Development Co. to renovate 39 apartments, of which 13 will be reserved for public housing families and the rest rented for $400 to $475 a month.

The city took over the Montpelier Apartments a year ago after the previous owner defaulted on a government backed mortgage.

It is the second initiative to replace some of the Lafayette Courts housing. The city already has hired two developers -- Savannah Development Corp. and Baltimore Housing Partnership -- to rehab 63 deteriorating rowhouses in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood at a cost of about $5.5 million. Another contract for 36 houses is under negotiation.

In Sandtown, 120 abandoned rowhouses will be renovated for public housing families. The redevelopment is part of a effort by the administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to rid the West Baltimore neighborhood of 800 vacant houses, create jobs, combat crime and offer better health care.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development is financing a large share of the replacement housing as part of a seven-year, $65 million commitment toward the city's plan to demolish its four high-rise developments. Lexington Terrace on the west side is scheduled to come down in the spring.

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