Eutaw Place opportunity Proposed townhouses: If done fTC right, middle-income homes along North Avenue should sell.

June 03, 1996

THREE BUILDERS ARE competing to build townhouses in the $115,000-$160,000 range on the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Eutaw Gardens rental apartment complex at the northwestern edge of Bolton Hill. If done right -- meaning the designs are appealing and homeowners are provided with suburban-type amenities like individual garages -- these houses should sell.

Bolton Hill is a "Baltimore classic," as resident historian Frank R. Shivers Jr. has noted. Many of its streets have the ambience of Georgetown. But while that tony neighborhood in the nation's capital has experienced nothing but stability since it began rising from a slum in the 1930s, Bolton Hill has had to repeatedly fight back threats of surrounding urban decay.

When Eutaw Gardens was constructed, only in 1972, it was envisioned as a stable, moderate-income complex. Rows of deteriorated -- but perfectly rehabitable -- late-Victorian rowhouses were torn down to make the 268-unit development possible. Ironically, the for-sale townhouses now proposed for the site try to approximate that same turn-of-the-century look.

While poor initial architectural design is blamed, Eutaw Gardens, in truth, fell into escalating troubles because of poor management and tenant selection. In the end, things got so bad the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development decided that the complex should be demolished. HUD is selling the land to the city for redevelopment for $1.

New for-sale housing has a spotty record in Bolton Hill. The distinctive 1967 Bolton Commons fared well, but sales of more recent developments have been sluggish. Because of negligible land costs, Eutaw Gardens townhouses should have a price advantage. Another advantage: The troubled corner of Eutaw Street and North Avenue is being cleaned. Already, on the Madison Park side several once-vacant apartment buildings have been rehabilitated.

Eutaw Place's glory years lasted from 1865 to the 1920s, when many of Baltimore's notables lived in opulent residences along the Paris-inspired boulevard. After the mansions and big townhouses were cut up into rental units, the area began attracting transients. With the right developer, Eutaw Gardens' replacement housing offers another chance to enhance the stability of this Baltimore landmark street.

Pub Date: 6/03/96

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