Style plus history in Reservoir Hill


Riviera: The developer is so pleased with the response to the renovation that he plans other projects in the city.

October 26, 2000|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

REVITALIZATION efforts in Baltimore's Reservoir Hill community have received a boost this fall with the reopening of the Riviera, a 1914 apartment building that has been restored to contain 54 residences, many with views of the lake at Druid Hill Park.

Since August, nearly half of the residences have been rented at rates of $535 to $950. Mayor Martin O'Malley is to preside over a grand-opening celebration there from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

"We're ahead of schedule for leasing, and we're very pleased with the quality of residents who are applying here," said Mark Dambly, a partner of Pennrose Properties of Philadelphia, one of the developers.

"We're getting young, urban professionals, people who have roots in the area or who work downtown and want to be close to where they work."

Designed by John Freund Jr. and situated at 901 Druid Park Lake Drive, the Riviera is one of four large apartment buildings constructed near Druid Hill Park in the early 1900s, along with the already rehabilitated Emersonian, Esplanade and Temple Gardens. All four are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The renovation is the first project completed in Baltimore by Pennrose, a 30-year-old company that has developed more than 5,000 residences in the mid-Atlantic region, including 22 historic properties. Pennrose renovated the Riviera with Reservoir Hill HOPE, a local nonprofit organization, at a cost of $7.8 million.

The one- and two-bedroom apartments still have the high cove ceilings, large windows, crown moldings and sun porches they did when the building opened as a luxury residence.

The work involved restoring historical features such as the brick exterior and marble lobby, and inserting new mechanical and electrical systems. Each apartment has central air conditioning, an individual security system and new kitchens and bathrooms.

The developers added a business center with high speed Internet access; a fitness room; community meeting space; laundry rooms on each floor, a gated parking lot and exterior lighting that shows off the building at night.

Cho Benn Holback + Associates was the renovation architectural firm. Harkins Builders Inc. was the construction manager.

Funding included $2.2 million from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development; $1.925 million from Baltimore; $1.61 from Baltimore's nonprofit Community Development Financing Corp.; and $2,421,194 in equity raised from the syndication of federal and state historic tax credits.

Pennrose specializes in urban revitalization and will maintain a Baltimore office on the premises. Dambly said he is so pleased with the response to the Riviera that he is pursuing other Baltimore projects, including the renovation of an eight-story building next door in hopes of offering 40 apartments.

Pennrose also is working on the Oaks at Liberty, a 75-unit community for seniors in Howard Park; and an 80-unit community for seniors in Cherry Hill..

Towson cemetery on walking tour

Representatives of Historic Towson will conduct a tour of Prospect Hill Cemetery - off the 600 block of York Road - the final resting place for many Baltimore County residents, at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are free to members of Historic Towson and $5 for others. The tour will meet at the cemetery's York Road entrance.

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