A developer working to transform vacant, city-owned properties in a North Baltimore neighborhood into hundreds of new and rehabbed homes received city design approval Thursday for 69 new apartments that will get under way this fall.

The city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel approved the layout and plans for five new buildings that Telesis Corp. will develop in the blocks bounded by East 20th and East 21st streets, Barclay Street and Greenmount Avenue. The company plans to start construction in September on 69 one-, two- and three-bedroom units in buildings that will resemble traditional Baltimore rowhouses.

City housing officials chose Telesis in 2006 to build about 325 rental units and homes in neighborhoods between Charles Village and Station North. The $85 million plan, which could take a decade to complete, targets city-owned vacant and rundown rowhouses and lots for redevelopment in the neighborhoods of Barclay, Midway and Old Goucher.

The proposed apartments, which Telesis estimates will cost $14.5 million, represent the second phase of the redevelopment. The company has completed 80 homes in the area, including renovating a former public housing building, said Catherine Stokes, senior project manager for Telesis.

The company also has been renovating rowhouses to sell as market-rate homes. Of eight completed in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of North Calvert St., seven have sold at prices of $199,000 to $249,000 and the eighth is under contract. A dozen more rowhouse renovations are under way in the 2200 block of Guilford Ave., Stokes said.

"We're doing smaller phases because of the economy but seeing good demand," Stokes said Thursday.

The site for the new apartments includes small gardens and parks off rear alleys. All of the apartments will be new construction except for two units in a rehabbed rowhouse.

While the city design panel approved the final design, it did recommend revisions to unify the proposed brick facades that feature roofline cornices and dormer and bay windows.

The developer will use public and private financing, Stokes said. Along with a private bank loan, financing has been secured through low-income housing tax credits, funds from a state rental housing subsidy program, a federal loan available through the city and acquisition financing from the Housing Authority of Baltimore.

Telesis started building the first phase of 72 rental homes in mid 2010 and completed those last fall. They include 19 new units in the 2100 and 2200 blocks of Barclay St.; a renovated, 29-unit former public housing building on Homewood Avenue; and 24 renovated units in rowhouses throughout the neighborhood.

During Thursday's design panel session, members also recommended approval of a preliminary design for Johns Hopkins Health System's planned $35 million expanded emergency department at Bayview Medical Center.

Hospital officials and architects from Ewing Cole showed plans for a three-story glass and metal panel structure with brick accents. The design calls for a ground-level emergency room, long-term observation rooms on the second floor and a children's emergency department with acute care inpatient rooms on the third floor.

Hopkins hopes to open the facility, an expansion of about 60 percent, by January 2014 to meet growing demand.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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