Barclay Project May Start In '10

Developer Gains Public Financing, Hopes To Begin Construction

July 17, 2009|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

Work could start early next year on the $18 million first phase of redevelopment of 268 city-owned properties in a blighted North Baltimore neighborhood south of Charles Village.

Developer Telesis Baltimore Corp., selected by city housing officials more than three years ago, has secured public financing to move forward with 72 affordable rental apartments and townhouses and hopes to start construction next year as well on for-sale housing, Catherine Simmons, a Telesis project manager, said Thursday.

The developer on Thursday presented a city design panel with one piece of the multi-phase plan - construction of 19 new, affordable rental townhouses in the 2100 and 2200 blocks of Barclay St.

The overall plan calls for $85 million in redevelopment of vacant lots and vacant and rundown rowhouses, including some public housing, in the Barclay/Midway/Old Goucher neighborhoods. It would be built in four phases over a decade and include rentals and homes for sale among an estimated 322 units. The area is bounded by North Avenue, 25th Street, North Calvert Street and Greenmount Avenue.

The goal is to stabilize the neighborhood, allowing current residents to stay while attracting new homeowners.

"The larger context is a real balance of affordable and market rate," Simmons said.

Additional parts of the first phase of rental redevelopment will include renovation of what is now a partially occupied public housing complex, Homewood House, in the 2200 block of Homewood Ave., and renovation of 14 rowhouses in scattered sites mostly on North Calvert, Barclay and 22nd streets to create 23 apartments. Homewood House would continue to include some public housing. The first residents of the rental townhouses would be able to move in about mid-2010, Simmons said.

Simmons said the project, which began seeking design approval Thursday before the city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel, is moving forward because the developers were able to secure low-income housing tax credits and rental housing funds through the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Additional financing for the $18.2 million project is coming from the Housing Authority of Baltimore, to replace public housing, and through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh's affordable-housing program. Some of the rentals would be reserved for low- to moderate-income residents who meet income guidelines. Developers expect to close on their construction financing by the first quarter of next year, when they would start work.

City housing officials had selected Telesis in 2006 over two other finalists. The city hopes to improve the blighted area between Mount Vernon and Station North neighborhoods to the south and the Johns Hopkins University area of Charles Village to the north.

"It's a neighborhood with potential, but it has suffered quite a bit in [the last] 30 years," said Alistair Smith, project manager for Baltimore Housing. Recent development in the Charles North arts district and proximity to Penn Station and Hopkins' Homewood campus should help attract residents, he said.

Simmons said that Telesis invests in the communities it redevelops, owning the rental units and bringing in an affiliate company to manage them:

"By bringing in this real mix of homeownership and rentals and all different income levels and by Telesis coming in as a property owner, we can have a tremendous stabilizing influence ... and work in partnership with the community to bring people back into the neighborhood, he said."

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