Bank to renovate Pimlico houses

Community legacy grant of $100,000 will be used to rehab 30 vacant homes

January 01, 2004|By Reginald Fields | Reginald Fields,SUN STAFF

Harbor Bank is accustomed to taking over houses but not necessarily this way.

"We've never taken on property directly like this other than when we have to repossess a home," said Joseph Haskins Jr., Harbor's chairman and chief executive.

The bank will use a $100,000 Maryland Community Legacy grant to buy and renovate 30 vacant and dilapidated houses in Northwest Baltimore's Pimlico neighborhood. Harbor Bank plans to sell the rehabilitated homes and use the proceeds to rehabilitate more houses in the area.

Haskins said the bank chose Pimlico because Harbor is the only bank that still has a branch in the community and because the area needs the help.

"We thought that the Pimlico area, because it has so many abandoned and destitute properties as a community goes, was an area that needed a lot of attention," Haskins said.

Harbor Bank's award was one of many similar grants to groups and agencies last year from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Including about $2 million for Baltimore City, the money is earmarked for rehabilitation and beautification projects that improve a community.

The Washington Village/Pigtown Neighborhood Planning Council in West Baltimore and the Waverly neighborhood in North Baltimore - both part of the city's Main Streets neighborhood improvement program - were repeat recipients last year.

"I guess this is just confirmation that they used the money in the right way the first time," said Mary Pat Fannon, director of the Main Streets program.

Both communities will use their awards - $256,000 for Washington Village/Pigtown and $205,000 for Waverly - to fix up commercial buildings or repair deteriorated facades.

In a change, business owners in those areas must apply for renovation funds as if they were acquiring a low-interest loan. In the past, the money was dispensed to whoever asked for it.

"This way, each community contributes to their own projects, and it's just not a giveaway anymore," Fannon said. "It makes sure people are really vested in the community."

The B&O Railroad Museum received the state's largest grant - $300,000 - which will be used to rebuild its roundhouse after a roof collapse last winter closed the museum.

The Coppin Heights Community Development Corp. received $162,500 to redevelop a vacant hospital in West Baltimore's Rosemont neighborhood.

Other groups receiving Legacy grants for city projects included the Midtown Development Corp., Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc., Unity Properties Inc., Neighborhoods of Greater Lauraville Inc., Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition Inc., Patterson Park Community Development Corp., Great Blacks in Wax Museum Inc. and the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corp.

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