City housing officials pick team to head Flag House Courts project Complex will be leveled, replaced with 260 units

June 03, 1998|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,SUN STAFF

City housing officials have chosen a team that includes the nation's largest African-American construction company to redevelop the Flag House Courts housing project.

H. J. Russell & Co., an Atlanta company with annual sales of $155 million, is one of three companies that formed Flag House Courts LLC. The other principal companies are Integral Group LLC of Atlanta, a minority-owned development company, and Mid City Urban LLC, of Bethesda, a developer of housing for low- and moderate-income people.

CHK Architects & Planners of Silver Spring will be the architect.

Flag House Courts LLC was one of two finalists for the project. The other was composed of A&R Development Corp., Enterprise Social Investment Corp. and NationsBank, said Estella Alexander, associate deputy director of the city housing authority.

Five development teams submitted proposals.

The Russell company is also the contractor for the Wyndham hotel, the Inner Harbor East project to be built a few blocks from Flag House Courts.

Targeted for demolition in July 2000, Flag House is the last of four major public housing high-rise projects that will be replaced with rowhouses, businesses, health clinics and day care centers under a $300 million 1996 court settlement.

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed the suit in January 1995, charging city government, the city housing authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with illegally segregating public housing tenants over 60 years.

On the edge of Little Italy, east of the Inner Harbor, Flag House Courts has 487 units, most of them in three high-rise buildings. The development will be leveled and replaced with 260 new units -- half-public housing and half-unsubsidized "market-rate" housing.

Cost is undetermined

Decisions on whether the market-rate units will be sold or rented and the prices that will be charged have not been made, said Alexander. Nor has the cost of the project been determined.

The first assignment for the development team, selected Monday night, will be preparation of an application for a federal grant to cover some of the costs. Alexander said the housing authority can seek up to $35 million for this application but hasn't chosen an amount.

Housing authority Executive Director Daniel P. Henson III announced the development team at a news conference at East Baltimore's Pleasant View Gardens, the first of the rebuilt public housing projects.

Hollander Ridge demolition

He also discussed his agency's decision, announced during the weekend, to demolish the 1,000-unit Hollander Ridge public housing development on the eastern edge of the city and build a 450-unit "senior village."

The Hollander Ridge reconstruction is not part of the court settlement and had originally been planned to follow the projects covered by the settlement. Henson said the project was moved up on the list in 1996. "The major reason that we did that was because of the deteriorating conditions," he said.

Henson's agency was awarded a $20 million HUD grant -- half of what it had sought -- in October 1996 to rehabilitate Hollander Ridge and reduce its density. It has asked HUD to let it use the money for the housing for the elderly.

Pub Date: 6/03/98

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