Dundalk votes down Hidden Cove renewal

March 24, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A Dundalk community association voted overwhelmingly last night to reject a proposal from a Florida company to spend $28 million to buy and renovate Hidden Cove Apartments on Lynch Cove.

The paper ballot vote taken by the West Inverness Community Association was 153-34 against Southern Apartment Specialists Inc.'s proposal to redevelop the 504-unit rundown waterfront complex.

"We are going to pull the plug on it," said County Councilman Louis L. DePazzo, a Dundalk Democrat, after the meeting.

DePazzo and other county officials did not attend the meeting in an attempt to avoid a raucous shouting match like the one that erupted March 11, the first time the community discussed the proposal.

Several West Inverness residents who spoke at last night's 90-minute meeting complained that property values in the 2,000-home peninsula community have dropped dramatically over the past few years because of crime, drug-dealing and blight.

"We invested in this county and we're taking a loss," said Robert Geller, 43, an 11-year homeowner.

Hidden Cove has water views, a swimming pool, large apartments and graciously landscaped grounds.

But the 32-year-old complex also has a 30 percent vacancy rate, badly needs roof and other repairs and is losing $1 million a year, county officials say.

Without renovations and a new owner, it could become just the sort of eyesore area residents say they fear.

Last night's meeting was the second attempt this month by West Inverness Community Association President Patricia Herman to hold a calm, community discussion on the Hidden Cove proposal.

Fueled by fear that the complex would become a subsidized rental community, an angry crowd of 400 shouted their opposition during the March 11 meeting.

Developer Richard T. Coley, chief operating officer of SASI in Orlando, Fla., says he wants to attract people who already live in the area, where the average household income is about $35,000 a year.

Under the agreement Coley negotiated with county officials over the past nine months, 100 apartments would carry market-rate rents and the other 400 would be reserved for families earning under $33,600 a year.

Because he would use federal tax credits to help attract investors and tax-free bonds to lower his firm's costs, Coley must abide by federal rules on income limits and accept tenants with federal rent subsidies.

Although the complex is too rundown to pass federal housing inspection for subsidized rental tenants, West Inverness residents fear the renovation will somehow worsen their brick rowhouse neighborhood instead of better it.

Pub Date: 3/24/98

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