$67 million development plan proposed for Uplands site

City seeks 381 affordable and market-rate homes

March 20, 2003|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

The sprawling Uplands Apartments site in West Baltimore would be redeveloped into a $67 million project containing roughly equal numbers of affordable and market-rate homes under a preliminary proposal drafted by city housing officials.

In a letter sent yesterday to the director of the Baltimore office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city proposed putting 381 detached, semidetached, townhouse and co-op units on the 46-acre parcel that now contains nearly vacated subsidized apartment units.

The plan calls for 205 market-rate houses and for 176 to be affordable mostly to households earning no more than $53,840 a year. Prices would range from $95,000 for one of the 48 co-op units to $295,000 for one of 40 detached houses.

City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano said in the letter that though federal policy called for 85 percent of the housing to be built to replace subsidized complexes to be affordable, he was asking HUD to waive that requirement at Uplands because the "overwhelming sentiment of the community is for a much higher percentage of market-rate housing."

He also said a greater percentage of market-rate housing was necessary to generate enough future tax revenue to help finance the complex's demolition and pay infrastructure costs estimated at $16 million.

HUD officials said last week that the agency would consider less than 85 percent affordable units, but did not indicate an acceptable percentage. Efforts to reach HUD officials yesterday were unsuccessful.

HUD has operated the Uplands Apartments off Edmondson Avenue near the county line since 2001, when the private owner defaulted on his mortgage, and is scheduled to foreclose on the project June 2.

Many leaders of nearby middle- and upper-income neighborhoods said they wanted no more than 20 percent of the units reserved for low-income residents. But one community leader said yesterday that she was satisfied with the proposal.

"It'll be a nice lift-up for Uplands," said Angela Bethea-Spearman, head of the Uplands Community Association. "We hope and pray HUD'll say OK."

Graziano's letter reiterated that final decisions on the site would be made after a summer community planning process.

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