Rebuilt and renamed, Lafayette Courts receives its first new residents Federal program razed high-rise complex, created brick rowhouses

September 28, 1997|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

In 1955, Frances Foster was one of the first residents to move into Lafayette Courts public housing project. She lived there for 40 years, until the complex was demolished two years ago.

Yesterday, Foster, 77, came home.

She was among the first five families to move into the rebuilt Lafayette Courts, which has been renamed Pleasant View Gardens.

But home is a different place. Handsome red-brick rowhouses stand where crime-ridden, high-rise towers once loomed over the eastern edge of the city. The 807-unit community was imploded in August 1995 to make room for low-rise, less dense housing.

"It was beautiful," Foster said, as she stood in her new living room yesterday, recalling the early years at Lafayette Courts. "I lived in the same apartment for 40 years, and I didn't want to leave, but I knew I had to.

"I was happy there, and I think I'll be the same here," said Foster, who was relocated to Latrobe Homes after Lafayette Courts was destroyed.

Lafayette Courts was the first of Baltimore's public housing projects to be razed and will be one of the nation's first federally funded replacement projects to be completed.

The $105 million Pleasant View Gardens community was designed to resemble a traditional Baltimore neighborhood, with 228 rowhouses, 110 apartments for the elderly, a day care center and recreation and community center.

City officials plan to sell 27 of the townhouses to low- and moderate-income families; 19 sales contracts have been signed.

The first dwellings are scheduled for completion early next month. Of the rental properties, 42 are finished and 39 families have been assigned to units.

"It's creating a new neighborhood," said Adrian Harpool, a partner with the Twenty-First Century Group, a public relations company hired by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City as part of the relocation at Pleasant View Gardens.

"We want to encourage closeness and cooperation among the families here," Harpool said.

With help from her six children, one daughter-in-law and at least six grandchildren, Foster had no trouble settling into her new two-bedroom house in the 200 block of St. Matthew's Street.

"I feel good. I feel real good," said Foster, as she watched her family and the moving men deliver her belongings.

Her five grandsons bounded upstairs, and then down again to check out the yard.

"I like it," said Kedrick Foster, 13, looking out the back door.

Franklin Foster, 56, one of Foster's five sons, had a different reaction.

"Uh oh, I've got to cut the grass," he said.

Down the street, Hazel Carter, 54, who spent 31 years at Lafayette Courts, supervised the movers at her new rowhouse.

"It's going to be quiet, and it's small and it's my dream," she said.

Leslie Thomas, 12, who will be living with her grandmother at Pleasant View Gardens, seemed pleased with her new home.

"It's beautiful to me," she said.

Mae Anderson, Foster's daughter, said she's relieved that many of her mother's former neighbors at Lafayette Courts will be returning to the site to live at Pleasant View Gardens.

"She won't get lonesome," she said.

Pub Date: 9/28/97

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