Future not what it was in city's Locust Point

Townhouses would join other renovation projects in blue-collar community

June 16, 2000|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Working-class Locust Point is beginning a new chapter this summer in its blue-collar-meets-chic urban renewal story.

Struever Rouse Homes, a subsidiary of Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, plans to bring three dozen upscale town homes to this southern Baltimore enclave that hasn't seen a new housing development in at least 50 years.

Groundbreaking is planned for August, developer Ted Rouse told Locust Point residents this week.

The tight-knit neighborhood, home to Fort McHenry and Domino Sugar, has 1,000 homes, 15 bars, several factories and a few defunct manufacturing plants. One of them, the old Coca Cola syrup plant, might become the headquarters of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The three-story, harbor-view, brick-front houses would sell for double the cost of the average row home in Locust Point. Struever Rouse is working with the Mark Building Co. to develop the lot, which has a vacant building on it.

The townhouses would sell for slightly less than $180,000, and options such as rooftop decks, garages and whirlpool spas could raise the price to $220,000.

Houses in Locust Point average about $85,000, according to JoAnn Martin, a real estate agent who has been selling in Locust Point for 10 years.

Residents took the news of the new town homes well, but are a bit leery of change.

"I think it will slightly change the flavor of the neighborhood, but we will outnumber them," said Betty Macioch, recording secretary for Locust Point Civic Association. "People are trying to move back [into the] city for convenience."

The development is four blocks from Struever Bros.' large undertaking, Tide Point, a $53 million renovation of Procter & Gamble Co.'s former detergent plant that is expected to become a hub for Internet start-ups and house 1,400 high-tech workers.

That falls in line with the company's vision of a "digital harbor," which attracts workers who would go to Virginia, Washington or elsewhere. Locust Point might become a microcosm for the concept.

State Del. Brian K. McHale, who has lived all his life in Locust Point, said this type of change is inevitable.

He quoted Yogi Berra: "The future isn't what it used to be."

Struever Bros. and Continental Realty Corp. are also turning the old Coca-Cola syrup plant into office and storage space, possibly as new headquarters for Maryland's Environment Department, sources said. The 274,043-square- foot factory closed in late 1997, ending 75 years of operation.

Struever Bros. has helped reconstruct 5 million square feet of buildings across the city, including American Can Co. in Canton, which draw young professionals to the formerly working-class area.

And now - for this chapter in the Locust Point story - Tide Point, Coca-Cola and the to-be-named town homes.

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