4% mortgages assist in area's rebirth Hillendale is jumping, and even the library is moving back

Neighborhood profile: Hillendale

March 22, 1998|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hillendale remains largely the same, even though a new generation of homeowners is finding it the perfect place for pleasant neighbors, excellent schools and access to public transportation, recreation and shopping.

In the mid-1950s, Hillendale was considered the outer suburbs, even though it was just over the city line. When the Hillendale Country Club closed, 748 brick rowhouses went up in its place, beckoning middle-class families who wanted a two- or three-bedroom brick house along open streets where residents had larger front and back yards than were possible in city rowhousing. The price tags for these new county houses were $10,000 and $15,000 in those days.

These days, the houses usually cost between $59,000 and $80,000, but they remain in great demand as many of the people who moved in more than 40 years ago head to retirement housing and the area undergoes a rebirth.

The main fuel for the rebirth is the affordability and convenience of the houses, coupled with the availability to first-time homebuyers with annual incomes of less than $44,000 of a mortgage interest rate of 4 percent, fixed over 30 years.

Through the Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Hillendale program, the community has led the way in making available low-interest state loans that encourage new residents to buy existing housing, part of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative, said Scarlett Loewe, a Realtor with O'Conor Piper & Flynn ERA's office in Lutherville.

"It's really kick-starting housing sales in this area," said Loewe, who sells homes in Hillendale using the low-interest loan program.

Since the program started in late December, housing sales in Hillendale have been increasing and time on the market, which has ranged from an average of six months to a year, has been dropping to weeks and days in some cases, Loewe said.

In return for receiving the lower interest rates, new residents are required to invest at least $5,000 to improve their home. The result will be a fresher community, as new residents apply the money to refurbish kitchens, bathrooms, basements and exteriors, Loewe said. Houses in Hillendale were built with a variety of options, so some houses have one bathroom, some two, some no basements, Loewe added.

"It's a great community, because of its convenience to everything, and this program is getting people in to see how great a place Hillendale is and can be," Loewe said.

Even without the program, residents find that the area offers them a variety of conveniences they cannot find elsewhere.

International flavor

Duane Sparks' job drew him to Hillendale in August 1995. His commute from Woodlawn to Taylor Avenue and Loch Raven Boulevard, to the Firestone store in Loch Raven Plaza, needed shortening. He found a three-bedroom rowhouse on Deanwood Road, and is glad he did.

"Hillendale's got a real international flavor," said Sparks, who is black. He and his wife, Maria, who is from the Philippines, respect and appreciate the racial diversity of Hillendale because it allows their daughters, Jessica, 7, and Jade, 18 months, to experience different people.

"People really appreciate each other's differences and really share who and what they are," said Sparks, who spends warm evenings seated on his cement front porch, talking with neighbors and passers-by.

A few blocks away, Cristian Terreros is checking on a neighbor whose car appears damaged from an accident.

Terreros, a security expert, and his wife, Lilian, who works as a bilingual executive secretary for Northrop Grumman Corp. in Linthicum, moved into their three-bedroom house in June 1991 to lessen their work commutes. They had been living in Edgewood in Harford County, which they found too far from his job in Hunt Valley and hers near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Branch reopening

"It's the perfect location for us, and we have a lot of nice neighbors," Terreros said.

The involvement of residents in their community during the last four years has led to the area's biggest success story: After closing in 1994, the Hillendale branch of the Baltimore County Public Library will reopen this summer in its former building on Taylor Avenue, across the street from the now-closed Hillendale theater.

"We deserve a library around here and we have fought to get it back," said Mary Poehlman, who along her husband, George, moved into one of the first Hillendale houses. Since 1984, Poehlman has been the president of the Hillendale Improvement Association.

Poehlman says the community is thriving. She points to the library reopening, alley resurfacing work and the soon-to-open Community Resource Center, where residents can have closer contact with police officers. The center will open in the Hillendale Shopping Center later this year; in addition to a mini-police station, the facility will have a meeting room for a variety of programs.

"This area, since it was first developed, has always had just about everything you could want close by," Poehlman said. "And it just keeps getting better."

Hillendale

Population: 2,100

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 15 minutes

Public schools: Parkville High, Loch Raven High, Loch Raven Academy, Halstead Academy, Pleasant Plains Elementary

ZIP code: 21234

Average price of a townhouse: $75,897*

*Based on 11 sales between Sept. 1, 1997, and March 10, 1998, reported to the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

Pub Date: 3/22/98

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