Waverly gets tax breaks to boost home sales Contest winner offers buyers 40% discount on property rate

June 04, 1996|By Joan Jacobson and S. Mitra Kalita | Joan Jacobson and S. Mitra Kalita,SUN STAFF

The Waverly community in North Baltimore won a citywide competition yesterday to lure newcomers with one of the biggest tax breaks offered to homebuyers.

Under the program to begin July 1, anyone buying a home in Waverly in the next three years will get a 40 percent discount in property taxes -- and a matching reduction in state income taxes.

Community leaders said they hope the tax break will bring new life to the area, which has eclectic styles of architecture and a diverse population, both ethnically and economically.

"The tax credit program is really worthy and will help turn the neighborhood around," said Paula Branch, co-chair of the Better Waverly Community Association.

The community includes the vacant Eastern High School, which the Johns Hopkins University is redeveloping, and the vacant Memorial Stadium, which will be used by the Ravens NFL team for two years.

"We're excited with all the things going on, with Hopkins coming and with the Ravens coming for two years," said Jim Fendler, who chairs the Waverly Improvement Association.

He and other leaders said they hope the tax break will persuade Hopkins employees to buy homes in the community.

The community is east of Greenmount Avenue, north of Exeter Hall, west of Loch Raven Boulevard and south of 39th Street.

"Waverly is basically a good neighborhood and has a lot of things going for it, but like a lot of city neighborhoods there's the perception that Waverly is not necessarily the best or the safest place to live," said Stacy Freed, who chairs the Waverly Housing Program in partnership with the Greater Homewood Community Corp.

The tax credit, she said, will give home shoppers "a second reason to come back and look at the neighborhood again."

Waverly beat about seven other neighborhoods that applied for the tax credit, said city housing spokesman Zack Germroth.

Waverly was selected, he said, because of the diversity of the architecture as well as the residents' incomes and ethnicity.

He said the community's aggressive efforts to market itself to homebuyers also was a plus.

Real estate agents reacted optimistically to Waverly's designation as a property tax credit neighborhood.

"Any kind of program that draws attention to homeownership in a city neighborhood can only be positive for Baltimore City," said Bill Cassidy, sales manager for Long & Foster Realtors. The program makes Waverly an affordable, diverse community of old Victorian homes even more attractive to the first-time buyer, Cassidy said.

Realtor Gary Suggars of Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty was more cautious.

"It's too new to tell if this will encourage people to move to the area," Suggars said.

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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