Developer seeks to rezone Canton lot for apartment complex

Opinions about proposal mixed among residents

June 24, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Swept up in Canton's real estate boom, a Baltimore developer wants to build a four-story, 63-unit apartment complex on an industrial lot littered with old tractor-trailers, cars and other vehicles.

P&G Development LLC has asked the City Council to rezone the roughly 1-acre lot in the 1200 block of S. Bouldin St. from industrial to residential so it can begin building the complex with on-site parking. A bill was introduced June 14, but the matter will not be addressed until the council returns to session in late September.

Company representatives will meet with community leaders and city officials to gain support for the project, said the organization's president, Gerson P. Polun. Construction could begin as early as November and take up to nine months, he said.

Polun's plan garnered mixed reaction at this month's Canton Highlandtown Community Association meeting. Some residents requested housing for seniors and others expressed concerns about a feral cat colony in the area, but the organization's president, Stephany Palasik, said replacing the junkyard would be a positive step for the neighborhood.

"It's just been a heartache for the community," Palasik said. "I don't think we'll mind the apartments."

First District Councilman John L. Cain, whose district includes Canton, called the lot a dump that residents are eager to be rid of. But, he said, the council needs to see more plans for the apartments before moving forward with the zoning. The earliest a hearing could be held, he said, is October.

"It sounds like an ambitious project for that size of a lot," Cain said.

The lot has been owned by former Councilman John A. Schaefer of Bel Air for more than 30 years. Schaefer, who rents out the lot, said he has a contract agreement with Polun pending a zoning change.

Polun declined to say how much he is paying for the lot, only offering, "It's more expensive than you'd think." City tax records show the lot is valued at $85,000.

The overall project, Polun said, will exceed $4 million.

Named Canton Gables, the one- and two-bedroom apartments would rent for from $800 to $900, which includes off-street parking. Still, some residents who live near the lot are unsure if the apartments would be a better alternative.

"If they would just clean up the lot a little, it would be OK," said Sandy Zeler, 32, who lives in the 3200 block of Elliott St.

Zeler and her neighbor, Audrey Holesek, expressed concern that the apartments will obstruct their view of the harbor and put more of a strain on parking. They said they will monitor the progress of the development this summer.

Cain said that even if the apartment project does not move forward, Canton will continue on its present course of redevelopment.

"There's a momentum there," Cain said. "I think it will continue no matter what happens to this lot."

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