Balto. Co. to raze units on west side

212 apartments slated for demolition

377 others due renovation

Liberty Rd. renewal effort

April 19, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Nearly 600 apartments will be demolished or renovated in an ambitious $10.5 million effort to revitalize a key commercial corridor on Baltimore County's west side.

County officials have reached an agreement to spend more than $5 million to buy and raze 212 apartments at the Villages of Huntington, on Liberty Road in Randallstown. The remaining 377 apartments will be taken over and renovated by Virginia-based Southern Management Co. at a cost of $5 million.

The plan mirrors county efforts on the east side, where aging apartment complexes are being demolished to create open space and an urban-style village of single-family housing and shops.

The west-side demolition work is part of a push to reduce the glut of apartments along Liberty Road, where construction boomed in the 1960s and 1970s, said County Councilman Kevin B. Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat. Officials estimate that one-fourth of the units at the Villages of Huntington are unoccupied.

"It's better to pursue the policy of acquiring and retiring these complexes," said Kamenetz, who also supported the demolition three years ago of Savoy East, a 66-unit low-income complex next to the Villages of Huntington. That project cost the county $1.1 million.

Mary Harvey, director of the county's Office of Community Conservation, said the County Council will be asked at its May 7 meeting to approve $4.8 million to buy 212 apartments in nine buildings that cover 13 acres. An additional $742,000 will be needed for demolition, which would begin within a year, she said.

Many of the apartments scheduled for demolition are vacant. Harvey said the county will help relocate the remaining tenants.

Targeted in failed bill

The Villages of Huntington was one of several Randallstown properties targeted for purchase by Senate Bill 509. That legislation, proposed by County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, would have given the county the authority to condemn properties in Randallstown, Dundalk and Essex-Middle River for economic development. The bill was soundly defeated by voters in a November referendum.

The county doesn't need to condemn the Huntington complex because its owner, Theo C. Rodgers, a prominent Baltimore developer, is a willing seller. County records show that the Villages of Huntington lost more than $700,000 in the two years after Rodgers bought it in 1997. Rodgers could not be reached for comment.

Harvey said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to restructure a $12 million federally insured mortgage so that Southern Management can afford to acquire a majority stake in the partnership that owns and manages the remaining garden apartments.

Two complexes to emerge

David Hillman, Southern Management's chief financial officer, said this week that it will cost his company $12,000 to $14,000 per unit for renovations. The apartments will be divided into two complexes, each to be given its own name and managed separately.

"The smaller community is easier to manage," he said.

Southern Management recently refurbished another Randallstown apartment complex and is involved in similar projects in downtown Baltimore.

Hillman said tenants in good standing at the Villages of Huntington will be offered renovated apartments.

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