3 Schoolhouse Apartments sites set to close

Tenants to get assistance, must move out by Feb. 28

January 16, 2002|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Three of six problem-plagued buildings, part of a once-heralded effort to convert vacant schoolhouses into low-income apartments, will be closed by the end of next month, a city official said yesterday.

Scheduled to be shuttered are Schoolhouse Apartments buildings at 2000 E. North Ave., 825 N. Broadway and 1024 N. Carrollton Ave., which are more severely deteriorated than the others, said Gary M. Brooks, executive vice president of the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corp.

Together, those properties have 68 units, but at least half are vacant, said Brooks, whose agency oversees the financing agreement on the properties. Tenants will be given vouchers and assistance in finding housing elsewhere, he said.

"The focus is to relocate those families out of those buildings within 30 days," Brooks said.

The other three Schoolhouse Apartments buildings - at 249 Aisquith St., 511 S. Bond St. and 1125 N. Patterson Park Ave., all in East Baltimore - will remain open and be turned over to another private management company still to be selected, Brooks said. He said a full assessment will be made of the need for rehabilitation of those buildings, which contain 64 units and are mostly occupied.

In November, tenants at all six buildings had received eviction notices from Crowninshield Management Corp., the Massachusetts-based property manager, saying they had to be out by year's end. After residents complained about the short notice, the move-out deadline was extended to Feb. 28 while the city discussed the fate of the buildings.

A tenant at one of the buildings that will remain open said residents had been "going crazy" over the past several weeks trying to determine what was going to happen.

"This is some good news right now," said Linda Magliano, an 11-year resident of 511 S. Bond St., who suffers from heart problems. "There's a few things I'd like to see get done down here, but right now, it would be very hard to try and start moving."

Efforts to reach a Crowninshield representative were unsuccessful.

Financed with $4.1 million in public money and opened 22 years ago, the Schoolhouse Apartments project was a venture in historic preservation, community development and affordable housing. But the project had a history of maintenance problems, which came to a head late last year when federal housing inspectors said the buildings were in "unacceptable condition."

The project's developer - a partnership of local developer Mendel Friedman and Crowninshield - owes the city $2.2 million, said Brooks. Under the terms of a 1979 agreement, the city retained ownership of the properties but gave the developers a lease through 2030 to rent the apartments to low-income tenants.

Brooks said the developer had not made payment on its debt for the past year and said the city would try to collect money it is owed.

"We fully expect we will recoup something," he said.

The city will look at "what redevelopment opportunities are available" for the three buildings that are being closed, Brooks said.

Opportunities could include commercial or residential development and demolition or rehabilitation, Brooks said.

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