Developer seeking $5 million for Cherry Hill senior housing

Design shown at meeting calls for 80-unit center on Woodview Road

May 14, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Fifty years in Cherry Hill, and Sarah Hackett is ready to move.

The 72-year-old widow complains that she has too much space in her two-bedroom public housing apartment. But she refuses to leave the southern Baltimore community.

She might not have to go.

Representatives from Philadelphia-based architects Wallace Roberts & Todd and developer Penn Rose Properties unveiled designs late Wednesday for a community senior housing center during a final planning meeting at Hemingway Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The project, planned for a site next to the church on Woodview Road, will be submitted by May 27 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for grant money.

Developer Mark Dambly said he hopes HUD will allocate $5 million through a HOPE (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) VI Grant to the proposed $11 million project.

Dambly said he expects a decision from the government by fall. City officials say construction could begin next year.

"I love it here [in Cherry Hill]," Hackett said loudly, smiling at the architect and developer. "I really hope they're going to get something started."

The four-story, 80-unit Cherry Hill senior housing center would be part of one of the city's most ambitious neighborhood reform efforts.

Cherry Hill has a new high school, shopping center and a crime control office.

But the senior housing -- and a companion home ownership project -- has been an issue in the community.

To clear the land for the project, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City bulldozed part of a 360-unit public housing development.

The demolition and housing discrimination concerns sparked an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the city.

As part of a settlement, the city agreed it would not use HUD funds to construct any housing projects in poor neighborhoods until it first gave the families in those projects new housing in mixed-income areas.

But in January, a judge in U.S. District Court in Baltimore modified the terms of a 1996 court decree and ruled that the city could pursue federal funds for the Cherry Hill project and another senior center in East Baltimore. The ACLU is appealing the decision.

Planned for a grassy plot, the proposed Cherry Hill complex would house 76 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units. Each one-floor apartment would have air conditioning, washer and dryer, balcony and carpeting. The brick building would have two elevators, a beauty salon, shops, medical staff, a pharmacy and a garden.

The preliminary design could change depending on how much money HUD contributes.

At the meeting Wednesday night, city Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III said he likes the brick design and approves of the proposed size and shape of the complex.

"The process now calls for us to move forward," Henson said to more than 30 community leaders, prospective residents and city officials. He told the crowd that "the minute" he hears from the government he will schedule another planning meeting.

Henson said the development is for those older than age 62, and applications from current Cherry Hill residents will be given priority.

Half the units will be available for public housing, and the others will be available at a market rate.

Pub Date: 5/14/99

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