Plans unveiled for senior housing

Restoration of 1917 school to provide 84 apartments


March 10, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Developers unveiled a $10 million restoration project yesterday that will preserve a Hampstead landmark and create much-needed housing for seniors.

In a meeting at North Carroll Senior Center, about 50 prospective tenants of the Hampstead School project saw plans for restoring the two-story brick building, built in 1917, and expanding it, allowing for 84 one- and two-bedroom units. Groundbreaking on the 5-acre property is set for early spring, with about 18 months allotted for construction.

Geraldine Redding graduated from Hampstead School 70 years ago and has many fond memories of the building that graces Main Street. She listened intently to the presentation while many others took notes. Redding said she would not want to live there when the school becomes a senior housing complex.

"I have my own home and my son and his wife to care for me," said Redding, 86. "But I am really happy they are not tearing the school down and that they are making it into apartments."

Cadoux Developers and Landex Corp. of Baltimore are among the companies working on the project. Their representatives expect to meet at least quarterly with seniors to gather their ideas on what amenities they would like, what the costs would be and eligibility requirements.

"This is a beautiful, structural piece of real estate and a great reuse of an old building," said Cathleen Cadoux, one of the developers.

The company had prepared drawings of the exterior and designs for units that will range in size from 680 to 1,200 square feet. The exterior design meets standards set by the Maryland Historical Trust, and the project is eligible for federal and state tax credits worth about $1.5 million.

Plans call for preserving much of the brick exterior, including several floor-to-ceiling windows. Builders will convert classrooms into apartments and add a new wing to the rear of the building, where the main entrance and a parking lot will be located.

Amenities planned

The auditorium will become a multipurpose room, and the principal's office will serve as a computer room. Plans call for a wellness and fitness center and a first-floor library. Each floor will have laundry facilities.

Fourteen units will be fully accessible to disabled tenants. Courtyards will afford residents gardening and recreational opportunities.

"It is a really convenient location, and I wanted to see what the apartments will look like," said Jane Edmunds, 78. "I live in Hampstead now, but I would really like to be right downtown so I don't have to drive everywhere I go."

But, Edmunds said after the presentation, the rents would be too high, with no guarantee that costs would not escalate annually. Monthly rents are projected to range from $465 to $650. Because tax dollars are involved, prospective tenants must meet maximum income limits.

Mary Owens, an aide at the senior center, is compiling a list of those interested in living at Hampstead School. If she could apply for housing there today, she said, she would. At 62, she is the minimum age allowed for residents.

"I am with my daughter now, but I would like to be on my own," said Owens. "I could be a five-minute drive from work."

Not all like idea

Arthur Houck, 83, and a Hampstead School alumnus, said he would rather see the building used as a school. A retired farmer, Houck said the building is solidly constructed with thick walls and cypress joists.

"The county should make do with what it has and use this instead of putting kids in portables," he said.

The building had fallen into such a state of disrepair that the county abandoned it in the early 1980s. It has remained boarded up and vacant ever since.

The Carroll County commissioners recently deeded the building to the town of Hampstead, which is overseeing the project.

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