Demolition of Riverdale Village apartments is delayed HUD officials blame paperwork, procedures

February 11, 1997|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Though they had hoped to begin clearing the land this spring, federal officials now say it probably will be August before all 25 abandoned apartment buildings are knocked down at Riverdale Village, one of Essex-Middle River's worst eyesores.

One building was removed -- piece by piece -- during two weeks last month as part of a special federal-private demonstration project on the recycling of building materials. Work started Jan. 6 and took 15 days.

But officials of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development blame paperwork and procedures for the delay in demolishing the rest of the World War II-era, two-story brick buildings to make room for ball fields and eventual redevelopment of the 27-acre Eastern Boulevard site.

"I'm kind of set back by it," said Baltimore County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat who represents the area. "I was just at a meeting the other night and told them it would come down in April. Last year, I told people it would come down last fall. I don't know what to tell anybody anymore."

Merreen E. Kelly, county administrative officer, said the news is not a major setback, just a minor delay. "I'm not terribly upset by it," he said.

The demolition of a housing complex the size of Riverdale is a new experience for HUD, said Ina B. Singer, head of multifamily housing for HUD's Baltimore regional office.

HUD, which foreclosed on half the 1,200-unit complex last year, is arranging for the demolition at the county's request. The county will buy the site for $1 when the work is done, then leave it as parkland until control is gained over the other half, owned by New York developer Richard Schlesinger.

The county wants to redevelop the land, possibly with new single-family homes.

HUD economist James S. Kelly said that at least two months will be consumed while an engineering company gathers enough technical information on the structures to allow a contract to be written.

"You have to go through the same process to tear something down as to build it," he said.

Meanwhile, the site is enclosed by a chain-link fence, and a security guard is on duty.

The one building exempted from the delays was removed for an Environmental Protection Agency-National Association of Home Builders research project on the recycling of used building materials. Instead of knocking the building down and bulldozing the rubble, a crew of six from a White Hall company dismantled it in reverse order of its construction, stacking materials thought to be worth $2,100 to $4,300.

Although the complex has suffered poor care for years, the floors and stair treads are solid oak hardwood and the windows are good-quality, double-paned replacements installed in the 1980s.

The materials include more than 4 tons of scrap metal per building, 5,000 good bricks, and hundreds of pine studs in good condition and framing lumber in the roofs and under the floors. The asphalt roof shingles and crushed cinder block can be recycled into road paving materials.

A team of experts studied the three-week "de-construction" process, calculating how much work was done in each 15-minute segment.

Pater A. Yost and Eric Lund, who operate the homebuilders' research center in Upper Marlboro, said the information is vital for contractors thinking of salvage rather than demolition.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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