At home in Dundalk -- once again

Area's revival leads seniors to return

Baltimore & Region


Charles and Shirley Blair left their hearts in Dundalk.

So they came back.

It's just a short jaunt from Rosedale, certainly, but they have joined scores of active seniors moving to Cove Point Apartments, a new, four-story residence on Peninsula Expressway that is viewed as one of the first building blocks in Dundalk's revitalization.

"We wanted to return to Dundalk because everything is here: friends, church, bank," said Shirley Blair. "Things are five minutes away, and we like that."

The first residents moved into the building in September, and political and community leaders recently celebrated the opening of the building. Cove Point has 100 one- and two-bedroom apartments, all of which were taken within a week of going on the market, developer J. Joseph Clarke said. More than 250 applicants sought leases.

Clarke found it interesting that about 75 percent of those who moved into Cove Point have, or had, Dundalk ZIP codes. "Dundalk has always had people loyal to the community," he said.

Clarke, who with a New Orleans partner was selected to develop the Fells Point Recreation Pier in the city as a boutique hotel, said he was seeking permits to build 45 more apartments on the Cove Point property.

While the opening of the Cove Point Apartments was seen as a step forward for Dundalk, some in the community are questioning when a larger renaissance will begin there in earnest.

They want to know when young homeowners will be attracted to affordable housing and the community might be rid of troubled apartment complexes. Community leaders point to neighboring Essex-Middle River, where extensive revitalization has occurred and more is anticipated.

"Cove Point is a much-needed project for seniors, but it is not the answer to the community's revitalization needs," said Jane Willeboordse, executive director of Dundalk Renaissance Corp.

A new housing development planned not far from Cove Point, the Lakes at Stansbury Shores on Bear Creek, could break ground next year after environmental remediation steps are taken, said Connie Tomko, an official with the project.

Two other waterfront developments are also planned but appear years away from offering homes for sale, Willeboordse said.

Cove Point's design is borrowed from the style of houses in the older Dundalk neighborhoods, with distinctive windows and dormers.

Rents are based on the incomes of residents.

The Blairs raised their family in the West Inverness area of Dundalk, where they moved in 1954.

"Because of some health issues, we packed up for Rosedale ... but came back here because we just like the people," said Charles Blair, 80, a World War II veteran and retired bus driver.

"It's kind of like city living because your neighbors are close, and you can get out and do things you want," he said.

Known around the Cove Point campus as "Miss Dot," Dorothy Layton, 75, enjoys meeting her new neighbors in the computer-equipped community rooms or the front hallway.

"Another thing I find helpful is the trash chute on the second floor," she said. "You don't have to go out in bad weather to empty your garbage."

For Barbara Friese, a lifelong resident of Highlandtown, Cove Point offered her "a place to finally call my own after working all my life."

"It's a wonderful place," said the 63-year-old widow. "I have my privacy when I want it and have my neighbors."

Friese describes herself as a "roadrunner" - a shopaholic who enjoys going out to stores and dinner or just being with her friends.

"Highlandtown and Dundalk aren't too different if you know what I mean, just good people," she said. "That's also why I moved here."

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