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Newtowne 20 comes down: Long-sought redevelopment of Annapolis public housing complex begins with demolition

Demolition on Newtowne 20 began Thursday, marking the first stage in the redevelopment of one of the Annapolis housing authority’s most dilapidated public housing complexes.

Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties is handling the demolition and eventual construction of a new residential community that will be built in the old one’s place.

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“No one ever thought one of the challenges would be entering construction of a major development during a national pandemic, but HACA and Pennrose have stepped up to meet that challenge in order to keep this project moving forward," said Melissa Maddox-Evans, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis. "This demolition phase brings us one step closer to the beautiful new homes our residents deserve.”

The project has been delayed for years. In 2015, it was derailed after an application error by a San Diego-based developer resulted in the state rejecting its request for tax credits needed to complete the project.

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Last year, the authority’s application for highly competitive 9% low-income housing tax credits was denied by the state, once again delaying the process.

Funding for redevelopment is coming from several sources including programs administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and its Community Development Administration, local funds from Arundel Community Development Services and the City of Annapolis, and private funding from Bank of America including a construction loan and Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity investment with a permanent mortgage facilitated by Hunt Real Estate Capital.

Demolition is being funded in part by a $350,000 award last year from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, which accounts for about 50% of the cost.

In January 2018, HACA tapped Pennrose Properties, a Philadelphia-based real estate development firm, to rebuild the property.

Patrick Stewart, senior developer at Pennrose, called the demolition “an exciting milestone” in the project which has been in the works for about two years. Construction on the new 78-unit development is expected to begin in late October and last for about 14 months.

“We’re one critical step closer to welcoming former Newtowne 20 residents and families into their brand new, high-quality homes," he said.

Pennrose has also handled the development of the Obery Court and College Creek communities.

Newtowne 20 residents, many of whom were relocated to other housing authority properties earlier this year, will have priority during the housing selection process, Stewart said. The units will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom “modern, energy-efficient” apartments, according to a statement released by Pennrose.

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development approved the demolition in March after months of delay. Newtowne has been plagued by plumbing, heating and mold issues.

A gas leak in February forced the housing authority to expedite the relocation of 42 families who were still living in the community. All residents were relocated by spring just as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the county.

After the Newtowne redevelopment, Morris H. Blum is the next housing authority property to be redeveloped.

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