Pleasant View Gardens costs itemized

November 15, 1997

WHILE WE find much to agree with the Oct. 7 Sun editorial, it unfortunately inaccurately portrays the per-house cost for Pleasant View Gardens, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City's newest community, which replaced the troubled Lafayette Courts.

The actual cost of a Pleasant View Gardens townhouse is $92,300, a rather competitive number in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The $310,650 per unit cost cited in the editorial is simply a ludicrous simplistic fabrication and The Sun staff knew that when they printed it.

The 228 new townhouses represent only one of six major components of this entirely new community. The total townhouse cost is therefore $21,055,459 plus an additional $2.9 million for related but extraordinary site improvements, which would not be incurred in a normal housing development.

The actual cost to construct the six major components, including the townhouses, is about $52.3 million. The five other components include site infrastructure (new roads, pavements, gutters and completely new underground utility systems) at $10,484,471. A new senior mid-rise building with another 110 housing units cost $8.8 million (or $80,000 per unit). The new youth development center cost $4.3 million, the new day-care center cost $2.5 million and a completely rehabilitated community center cost $2.5 million.

The Sun editorial accurately noted that the total project budget is $105 million. The editorial did not, however, take into account other extraordinary costs above and beyond what it costs to construct buildings that are directly attributed to this project. For example, the demolition costs for the six high-rise and 21 low-rise buildings that were previously located on the 21-acre site was $9.75 million. The original Lafayette Courts literally had to be treated like a brownfield site and the buildings carefully stripped of all hazardous waste materials and recyclables prior to demolition. The cost for contractual on-site services and inspections during demolition and construction was another $1.5 million. And, HABC revitalization administration is $6.3 million over five years.

The cost for relocating more than 600 families from the site in 1995 was $1.5 million. Another $4.6 million was used to build 50 replacement houses in other communities. More than $18.6 million is dedicated to restricted uses under the consent decree in the Thompson vs. HUD case. And $8.5 million is allocated for HABC management improvements and community and support services over a five-year period. Finally, $650,000 is allocated for common area furnishings and equipment for the non-residential buildings and $1.3 million is the project's contingency.

Daniel P. Henson III

Baltimore

The writer is the city housing commissioner.

Pub Date: 11/15/97

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