Low-income apartments offer seniors sense of security, comfort

Fairspring complex opened in Sept., has waiting list

February 24, 2003|By Kimball Payne | Kimball Payne,SUN STAFF

Don't ask a Fairspring resident who has the best apartment. You might start an argument.

Residents of the four-story, red-brick apartment complex for seniors in Edmondson Heights, which opened in September, are happy with their new homes.

"Up on the fourth floor, that's the penthouse. That's where I live," said Pauline Burton, 69, a retired food service employee for Baltimore schools. But Burton's former co-worker and longtime friend, Luberta Jones, thinks her apartment on the second floor is best because of the view.

"It's just so comfortable, and it just feels so safe. You don't have to worry about anything," Jones said. "You just walk into a nice clean apartment, and you feel like you're going to see Donald Trump."

The $9.5 million complex, with 100 apartments for low-income seniors, has a waiting list, according to leasing manager Kenny Noel.

Built through a combined effort by the Enterprise Foundation and the Waterford Group, Fairspring aims to increase the options for senior residents "at or below 60 percent of the area median income," according to a news release.

The Enterprise Foundation, launched by James W. and Patty Rouse in 1982, develops and manages portfolios of affordable housing projects in low-income communities across the country. The Waterford Group has developed similar projects across Maryland including Fairbrooke in Aberdeen and Fairview in Rising Sun.

The building's 92 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments are equipped with handicapped-accessible bathrooms and full kitchens.

Fairspring is in the 1100 block of St. Agnes Ave., just north of Route 40 and close to area bus lines, churches and shopping centers. It has a good working relationship with the nearby Catonsville Senior Center, which offers various classes, activities and meals, Noel said.

The complex also has a library, a lounge, a medical suite, a front-lawn gazebo and laundry rooms. Social events include weekly Bible study classes, low-impact exercise classes and free coffee and doughnuts every Thursday morning.

"This is not a boring place," said Burton, who had her first try on the Internet recently during a computer class. She hopes to use the buildings communal computer and free Internet access to stay in touch with her family.

"Just imagine me talking to my great-grandkids in Arizona, wouldn't they be proud of great-grandma?" Burton asked.

"We have a very active group of seniors here, and it's really more like a family atmosphere," Noel said.

Residents have been known to throw a party or two.

A potluck Christmas party brought out the chef in many of the residents. "The food couldn't have been any better at Martin's West," said Betty Pratt, 62, who brought candied sweet potatoes, her specialty. "The spread stretched out the door. You name it, we had it."

Recently the residents threw Noel a surprise birthday party.

Once the weather gets warmer, Sadie Baldwin knows that she can start using one of Fairspring's other perks.

"They're going to have to pull me out of that gazebo," she said.

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