By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun
4:58 PM EDT, June 20, 2012
The Baltimore City Council and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake have enacted a zoning ordinance that will allow a former Catholic school in Southwest Baltimore to be converted into a convalescent home for homeless people.
Project PLASE (People Lacking Ample Shelter and Employment), a 30-year-old nonprofit based in Charles North, has offered more than $1 million for the former St. Joseph's Monastery school buildings in the 3500 block of Old Frederick Road. The school was closed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2010.
Councilwoman Helen Holton introduced a zoning bill in August but withdrew it after community members protested. After months of neighborhood lobbying by the nonprofit and members of the parish, which cannot afford the school's upkeep, Holton reintroduced the "special use variance" in March.
Passage of the zoning change was PLASE's only significant obstacle to purchasing the parcel. Rawlings-Blake signed the zoning ordinance Monday, making the change official.
PLASE plans to spend several million dollars to renovate the property, which will provide space for social services and about 90 apartments. Sixty of the residential units will be transitional housing, allocated to homeless people who are trying to get back on their feet. The rest will be permanent residences.
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