Seniors housing plans stalled

Proposal would turn former school into 90 apartment units

Financing is an issue

January 23, 2002|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Plans to transform the old Hampstead Elementary School into housing for low-income seniors are on hold while developers work to get financing in order, county officials said yesterday.

The partnership of Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, Interfaith Housing of Western Maryland and Westminster's Cadoux Development was unable to get unspecified tax credits it wanted for the project, county staff told the Carroll commissioners. The developers have vowed to reapply for credits in June.

"In the meantime, there has been no contract signed" between the partnership and the town, said Ralph Green, county director of permits and inspections. "However, the town may meet with the developer about preventing further deterioration of the building."

Struever and the nonprofit Interfaith Housing want to create about 90 apartments for senior citizens with maximum annual incomes of $28,000 and are hoping to secure historic preservation and low-income housing grants - as well as tax credits - to finance the $10 million project.

The Main Street housing complex would serve independent seniors, but an assisted-living development might follow if Struever and Interfaith Housing can buy town-owned ball fields behind the vacant, U-shaped brick school.

Plans call for Struever to refurbish the brick building, demolish the 1960s addition in back and build an addition. Interfaith would manage the apartments.

The town and county received four development proposals for the elementary school, but only two were viable, according to Hampstead officials.

Hampstead council members favored the Struever proposal because of the company's long history of successful revitalization projects in Baltimore.

In other business, the commissioners are considering transferring a vacant school in New Windsor to town officials.

"The town would like to sit down with county staff and have a roundtable session to go over the possibilities for the school," Green told the commissioners. "We will have a presentation for them in about three weeks."

Several organizations, including Change Inc., which provides employment opportunities for developmentally disabled adults, have expressed interest in the school. The three-story building, last used as an elementary school, has been vacant since New Windsor Middle School opened several years ago.

Change Inc. asked the commissioners last month for permission to renovate about 7,500 square feet on the first floor of the newest section.

The project would cost about $235,300, according to preliminary estimates. Once completed, the redeveloped space would be used for a loading dock, assembly and storage.

The commissioners said they were keeping an open mind about the fate of the school.

However, Commissioner Donald I. Dell told staff members to keep Change Inc. "in the loop."

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