Sowing a fresh start at a dump Blighted corner near Pimlico Race Course picked for new homes

'Renewal of the area'

Cylburn will offer subsidized mortgages to help purchasers

August 04, 1996|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Hoping to revitalize neighborhoods near Pimlico Race Course, a nonprofit developer plans to break ground tomorrow for a $1.3 million townhouse development designed to draw a mix of low- and middle-income buyers.

For nearly six years, Park Heights residents and The Development Corp. of Northwest Baltimore have looked for ways to transform a former dumping ground in the 2700 block of W. Belvedere Ave., near Pimlico Road. They say 15 new townhouses, to be called Cylburn Crossing, should help anchor an area homeowners have been trying to stabilize.

"We see this as part of the renewal of the area," said Peggy Johnson, president of the Uhler/Pall Mall/Spaulding neighborhood association. "It's going to bring in new families."

Houses with three bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, full basements and off-street parking will sell for $85,000.

Because mortgages will be subsidized, low-income buyers will need loans of just $60,000, which reduces monthly payments to as low as $550 per month. A family of four would qualify by earning an annual income of $39,500 or less, while a single person must earn no more than $27,650.

As part of a trend to stabilize neighborhoods through economic diversity, the developer also hopes to sell about five or six homes to middle- or upper-income residents.

Such buyers would not qualify for subsidized mortgages, which means they must pay the full $85,000. But the developer hopes to lure buyers by allowing them to modify homes with options such as decks or fireplaces, said Marianna Donisi-McCann, executive director of The Development Corp.

Some who have expressed interest in buying homes are children of longtime residents, Johnson said. Her community association represents several streets of rowhouses, whose owners have launched block watch programs, neighborhood block parties and children's activities.

The project represents the first new construction in the area in six years for The Development Corp., which offers free counseling for homebuyers and has spent several years renovating deteriorating homes on West Belvedere Avenue and selling them.

About 10 years ago, a former owner of the corner site had proposed building a 24-hour convenience store and service station, but the city eventually bought part of the property. Community leaders decided new homes should be built there. In the meantime, the vacant land has been used as a dumping ground.

Though the city donated a corner lot and the Maryland Jockey Club donated six lots, the corporation was unable to take control of the entire property for five years, as negotiations dragged on over purchasing a strip of land held by a trust.

"That corner site has been an ugly, blighted site for a long time," said Donisi-McCann. "This really will beautify the site. It puts vacant land to good use, helps the tax base and gives the area a boost. What it says is if people are investing, it must be an OK place to live and raise a family."

The developer, in partnership with the quasi-public Housing Assistance Corp., obtained $25,000 second mortgages to subsidize homebuyers' loans through community development block grants and Pimlico Racetrack Impact Funds. That state tax on the track goes to housing and community development projects that help reduce racing's impact on residential communities.

A $750,000 construction loan came from Signet Bank, and some permanent financing for buyers will be offered through the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corp.

Homes will be factory built in sections by AvisAmerica, a modular-home builder based in Pennsylvania. The builder has constructed similar homes in suburban counties. Pimlico Race Course has put up fencing to screen the homes from the track.

The Development Corp. has been selling rehabilitated homes for $48,000 or $50,000. Homes in the area typically sell from $35,000 to $89,000.

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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