Preliminary OK given for apartment complex

4-building housing site planned for Mount Vernon

October 31, 2003|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

The red-brick former firehouse that hugs the road where Mount Royal Avenue curves into Guilford Avenue is a shell of its former self. But inside, a grandeur remains that a developer intends to tap to make the building a centerpiece of a new $9.4 million apartment complex on the northeast fringe of Mount Vernon.

Now that the city has granted preliminary approval for the development, William Hazlehurst's Osprey Bolton Printer's Apartments LLC can seek state tax credits and other public financing for a project planned to mix market-rate and low-income rental units.

"We love having new residents moving into Mount Vernon," said Lisa Keir, executive director of the Mount Vernon Cultural District.

The four-building complex, known as Printer's Square Apartments, will need final approval in two to four months before $5.9 million in financing can be secured from city, state and federal sources, said Melvin Edwards, a spokesman with the city's Department of Housing and Community Development. The Board of Estimates on Wednesday approved the concept but will have to vote again to release any money, Edwards said.

The properties included in the complex are 1310, 1312 and 1314 Guilford Ave. and 1300 Hunter St. They would contain 60 apartments, with half receiving federal assistance. There would also be 49 parking spaces.

Rents would range from one-bedroom apartments between $530 and $875, and for two-bedroom units between $625 and $1,100, Edwards said.

The centerpiece of the mostly loft apartment project would be the firehouse at 1312 Guilford. It would retain much of its architecture dating to the early 1900s.

The buildings, now practically vacant, are not considered magnets for serious crime. But a sheet of paper taped to the building yesterday declared the handwritten desperation of a neighbor: "Laptop stolen from car on Calvert Street bridge. ... Reward for info to its recovery."

The note's author, Hirsh Nanda, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University, has lived in a neighboring apartment building for five years and said theft from cars is the area's biggest crime.

"I don't know if one more apartment building would reduce the crime," Nanda said.

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