Glendening targets apartment complex in proposed budget

Additional $2 million would go to demolish Village of Tall Trees

April 08, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Boosting Baltimore County's revitalization efforts, Gov. Parris N. Glendening has budgeted $2 million toward demolishing the Village of Tall Trees, a large apartment complex in the heart of the Middle River corridor.

The money is included in Glendening's supplemental budget to help fund the county's purchase and demolition of the decaying community of 800 apartments built just after World War II along Back River Neck Road.

The Tall Trees project is being pushed by Baltimore County officials as a crucial part of their 4-year-old effort to revitalize the Middle River corridor by developing homes, parks, restaurants and marinas.

"This is a key for us to tap into the overall potential for the whole Essex-Middle River area," said Michael H. Davis, a spokesman for Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

The complex of 105 buildings lies south of Eastern Boulevard, the site of a $5.4 million streetscaping project and several blocks from Hopewell Pointe, a $34 million development of homes, a restaurant and a marina.

It also is in the area of three other privately owned complexes -- Riverdale, Chesapeake Village and Tidewater Village -- that are being demolished to make way for homes and parks.

"It's right in the heart of the revitalization area," said Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat whose district includes Essex.

Sen. Michael J. Collins, who represents the Middle River area, said Glendening agreed to include the money in his $153 million supplemental budget -- which is linked to passage of his tobacco tax increase -- after Ruppersberger promised $2 million in matching funds.

Collins said that no firm price has been set for the complex, and purchase of the 53-acre site could take several years.

Nancy Hatfield, a real estate agent who owns 17 of the apartment buildings at Tall Trees, said many of the owners are anxious to sell. But she said the total cost for the complex could be as high as $16 million.

"You have some good income being generated on some of these buildings," said Hatfield.

Tenants at Tall Trees said yesterday that the proposal has them concerned about how long they will have a roof over their heads.

"I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens," said William James, 52, who has lived 11 years in one of the two-story brick apartment buildings in the 1600 block of Doolittle Road.

Collins and Davis said that any purchases would include measures to help Tall Trees' 2,500 residents find homes.

"People are not going to be put out on the street because of this, and people are not going to be mistreated," Collins said.

Davis said that the 38 owners at Tall Trees made it difficult to coordinate improvements, ranging from police patrols to cleanup efforts.

"A lot of these people are investors who are operating on limited budgets, and it's difficult for them to make the improvements that have to be made to those properties," Davis said.

Capt. Jim Johnson, commander of Essex Precinct, said many landlords fail to perform background checks on tenants, and are unwilling to evict problem tenants.

"Some of the owners you can deal with, and some you have a difficult time dealing with," Johnson said.

He said the crime rate at Tall Trees has dropped since 1994, when a series of police initiatives, such as stepped-up foot patrols, were initiated. But he said Tall Trees generates about 4,000 calls a year, a disproportionately high number for a community of 2,500.

Pub Date: 4/08/99

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