Crittenton mansion exterior renovations approved by city's preservation board

The Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation on Tuesday approved a developer's exterior renovation plans for the conversion of an historic former home for unwed mothers into apartments.

CHAP voted 6-1 to approve staff recommendations endorsing the renovation of the mansion, the old Florence Crittenton Home for Girls at 3110 Crittenton Place in Hampden.

Developer John Brooks wants to convert the house into 14 apartments, plus one in a nearby cottage. Neighbors, who oppose much of Brooks' plans, have been calling for eight apartments.

Brooks also wants to raze a 1990s dormitory on the 2.5-acre grounds and build 19 townhouses with decks and garages. Last month, the zoning board denied proposed setback variances for the townhouses on the site of the old Florence Crittenton Home for Girls. The CHAP board did not address the townhouses at Tuesday's hearing, saying it was not their purview yet.

Al Barry, a land use consultant to Brooks, told the CHAP board he and Brooks would file a revised application for setbacks, based on the zoning board's ruling.

The CHAP board signaled at the hearing that it would like Brooks to renovate the historic, pre-Civil War mansion first, before he builds the townhouses. That has been a priority for a steering committee of area residents and business owners working with City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

Brooks has stated in the past that he needs to build townhouses first to fund mansion renovations, but he told the board Tuesday he has enough money to do an estimated $1.7 million in mansion work and build at least three townhouses. The overall project would cost about $8 million, he said.

Barry said CHAP does not have the authority to dictate which part of the project is done first. Brooks must enter into a contract with the Maryland Historical Trust, which owns an easement on the site and could dictate the order of work, Barry said.


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