Loyola wants to buy apartment building

Prospect of college expanding into Roland Park unnerves residents

April 24, 2000|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Loyola College plans to purchase Park Lynn Apartments in Roland Park, a move that is raising hackles with some residents unhappy that the college is extending its reach into the North Baltimore neighborhood.

Loyola spokesman Mark Kelly confirmed the transaction Friday, saying that the college had made an offer and that a contract was being negotiated. He said the family trust that owns the brick garden-apartment building accepted the college's offer last week. He declined to disclose the sum.

The prospect of the sale displeased some Roland Park residents, who held a meeting Thursday night to discuss what course of action they might pursue. Deborah Eaton, who lives close to the Upland Road apartments, described the deal as an "institutional incursion into the heart of the neighborhood."

Based on assessed value and the state of the market, an agent at the Roland Park-Wyndhurst O'Conor Piper & Flynn real estate office, Ken Maher, estimated the market price of the building at $1.5 million to $2 million.

Kelly said that tenants in the 52-unit complex would be welcome to stay as long as they choose.

But, he said, the college intends to use the apartments, about a mile from Loyola's North Charles Street campus, as housing for graduate students, faculty members and visiting scholars. "We will also lease to the general public," he said.

Kelly said the site was "absolutely not" for undergraduate use -- a worry on the minds of some Roland Park residents.

The college's move to acquire residential property might be a breach of a 10-year legal agreement reached with the North Baltimore Neighborhood Coalition in 1995, some said. The agreement between Loyola and the coalition of a dozen nearby neighborhoods, including Roland Park, Homeland and Guilford, states that the college will not buy residential property within a half-mile of its campus.

Because Loyola is building a recreation complex on the former Boumi Temple site and has dormitories on West Cold Spring Lane, coalition officials contend that the college has changed its boundaries and that Roland Park lies within a half-mile of the campus.

The apartment acquisition occurs during a building boom for the college, which has little room to expand in its immediate surroundings. To attract a wider pool of applicants, Loyola is upgrading its facilities and has arranged to buy woodland near the Jones Falls Expressway. The college plans to build athletic fields on the site.

"I would hope that Loyola would proceed with deliberation and sensitivity," said Thomas Marudas, North Baltimore Neighborhood Coalition chairman. "We are hopeful that Loyola, as it proceeds, will be mindful of both the spirit and letter of the 1995 agreement."

Kelly said that question would be considered during the "due diligence" phase of the purchase. He said college officials were aware of the community's concern.

Stephen Lauria, president of the Roland Park Civic League, said Loyola College did not have the same "growth and development objectives" as homeowners in the area.

"We are trying to stay stable and residential, without institutional encroachment," Lauria added.

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