Lansdowne residents have mixed feelings about a new townhouse development that Enterprise Homes is planning for a vacant property on Hollins Ferry Road.
The development will feature 54 "rent to purchase" townhouses. The residences will initially be rental properties and the tenants would have the option to purchase where they are living at the end of a 15-year period.
Not all area residents, however, are looking forward to the addition of more rental units in their community.
"We're over saturated as it is with rentals now. And there's no long-term investment," said Theresa Lowry, co-director of the Southwest Leadership Team on the absence of homeowners.
Lowry said that the addition of more rental units in the area would decrease property values because renters are less inclined to be active in community improvements due to the lack of permanence.
"You don't have people who are invested in the community," Lowry said.
Chickie Grayson, president and CEO of Enterprise Homes, disagreed.
Grayson said her company chose Lansdowne in hopes of sparking some revitalization in the southwestern portion of Baltimore County.
"There's plenty of employment. There's plenty of transportation," Grayson said. "So it's the kind of smart growth things we look for where there are other amenities that would be beneficial to people and help them live in a quality community."
Having the residences available to purchase at the end of the 15-year rental period will give those living in them time to learn about home maintenance, get involved in community improvement associations and receive home ownership counseling.
"These are going to be people who are interested in purchasing at the end of 15 years," Grayson said.
Riverview resident Brenda Harney said she is undecided about whether she is in favor of the new development.
She pointed out she is concerned that the 15-year time period for renting before a residence could be purchased might be too long.
Harney spoke at a Riverview-Ryerson Circle Improvement Association meeting Jan. 10, during which she presented detailed research on other "rent to purchase" communities.
Her biggest concern is that none of the communities have been around for long enough to reach the end of the rental period and that it might not turn out as nicely as Grayson and Enterprise Homes may think.
"I know it's going to be beautiful, it's no doubt," Harney said of the complex. "Enterprise Homes comes with a very good reputation,. But there's no results, because nothing (like this) is 15 years old. No communities are 15 years old yet."
Harney said the general feeling at the meeting was one of support, but that she is still unsure whether or not the new community will be a positive.
She said it could either inspire current residents and landlords to beautify their properties, or it could just add more people to Lansdowne who aren't truly invested in it.
""Everything is a risk ...and the community felt that it was worth the risk because they want change," Harney said of the association's vote in favor at the meeting. "And they are hoping that this will be the catalyst for change."