Company to build housing east of B & O Museum Metroventures/USA Inc. to develop city-owned tract

September 01, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

Baltimore officials have selected Columbia-based Metroventures/USA Inc. to build housing on an eight-acre city-owned tract east of Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.

The 6-year-old development company heads a team given four months to finalize plans for the former Koppers Co. property at Scott and McHenry streets in West Baltimore. Suzanne Graham, senior project manager for Metroventures, said the company would like to refine its plans and secure financing to begin construction next spring.

"We're trying to fast-track it," she said. "Our focus is on getting it built and getting it sold in the shortest possible time. Interest rates are good and people are buying homes."

Metroventures, one of two groups that responded to the city's request for bids earlier this year, proposed building Scott's Landing, an $18.6 million community with 144 townhouses priced at no more than $105,000.

The other bidder, Baltimore Streetcar Museum on Falls Road, proposed moving to the parcel so it could promote itself and the B & O Railroad Museum as one destination for rail buffs. But the housing department said it preferred residential proposals.

Metroventures was notified last month that its bid was accepted. Its project would be one of the city's largest private housing ventures in years, on one of the few large tracts of land available for residential development close to downtown.

"We're very excited about it because it's a downtown residential project, and we view that as very important" to the city, said Suzanne Graham, senior project manager for Metroventures. "We want to create a community that is livable, affordable, and looks good."

The land once belonged to the Koppers metalworks company. Abandoned in 1986, the property was later acquired by the city. In 1994, the city awarded the land to a joint venture of Ryland Homes and Otis Warren Development Co., which backed out of the project in March.

Design Collective of Baltimore is the project architect for Scott's Landing. Its plan calls for each townhouse to have three bedrooms and a one-car garage. Harkins Builders is the general contractor, and Essex Construction is the contractor for site improvements.

Metroventures proposed raising funds for site improvements at Scott's Landing by selling the houses and leasing the land to homebuyers through a modified ground rent arrangement. The ground rents would "dissolve" ter a certain period, and the land would eventually belong to the purchasers.

NationsBank would provide construction financing, and NationsBanc Mortgage Corp. would provide mortgage financing. Gray Kirk/van Sant would be the marketing consultant.

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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