Seawall chosen for Remington row house rehab project

Seawall Development Corp. has been recommended by a Baltimore City advisory committee to rehab nine vacant, city-owned row houses in Remington, marking another milestone for the community-minded developer best known for its teacher housing.

Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano was expected this week to sign off on the advisory committee's recommendation that Seawall, based in Remington, be chosen to rehab the houses, which the city says are currently uninhabitable.

Seawall, headed by developer Donald Manekin, his son, Thibault Manekin, and partner Evan Morville, is best known for converting the former Union Mill in Hampden and the former Census building in Remington into affordable apartments for young public school teachers in the Baltimore area, as well as office space for nonprofits.

Seawall is based in the Remington complex, called Miller's Court, at 25th and Howard streets.

The Manekins and Morville could not be reached for comment.

The rehab project is being undertaken as part of the city's Vacants to Value program to rehab as many as 4,000 abandoned, unliveable houses that the city owns. That represents only a quarter of the 16,000 such houses citywide, the rest of which are owned privately, Graziano told attendees at the Greater Homewood Community Corp. Neighborhood Institute on March 24.

The houses were previously owned by the Baltimore Housing Authority and were turned over to the city Housing Department for rehabbing under the Vacants to Value program. Rehabbing the houses is seen as important, especially with the 25th Street Station shopping center with aWal-Martplanned nearby.

"Remington is getting a lot of interest with the $70 million development coming," Kunst said late last year as the city was preparing a Request for Proposals for the rehab project. "We are happening."

The city issued the RFP in December. City housing officials said in a prebid conference attended by more than 20 people in January that their preference would be to see the houses — all 1,000 to 1,100 square feet — sold for home ownership. The city also opened the boarded-up houses to potential bidders for a tour several days after the prebid conference.

Seawall was one of three bidders for the project, beating out Ben Frederick Realty and Tadesse & Associates, Inc. Ben Frederick Realty, based at 701 West University Parkway in north Baltimore, specializes in multi-unit apartment and commercial investment, according to its website. Tadesse, based in Germantown, Md., is an engineering and land development consulting firm that does a lot of work in Baltimore, owner Ted Tadesse said.

Letters of support for Seawall as the developer of the project came from Remington's two community associations, the Remington Neighborhood Alliance and Greater Remington Improvement Association.

"Seawall shared the community vision of GRIA attendees and best represented how we would grow the community through this project," states GRIA's letter. President Judith Kunst said GRIA's membership voted overwhelmingly for Seawall at GRIA's meeting March 7.

"I'm thrilled to death," Kunst said. She said neither Tadesse & Associates nor Ben Frederick Realty "seemed to have a vsion of what Remington can become."

"We would be very pleased" to see Seawall selected said Remington Neighborhood Alliance Presdent Joan Floyd. She said Seawall was the choice of everyone she talked to, including adjoining homeowners.

A March 14 letter from the RNA "endorses the proposal of Seawall Development to obtain nine long-vacant houses in the 2800 block of Remington Avenue and transform them into good homes for good neighbors."

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