Sharla Johnson said it was "sad" that conditions at the Bay Ridge Gardens apartment complex had to deteriorate so badly before residents and Annapolis officials were moved to action.
But Ms. Johnson, a three-year resident of the complex, said she was hopeful that renewed interest of residents in the tenants council will mean a change for the better for Bay Ridge Gardens.
"Maybe if [the tenants] owned it, we would have more say in getting things fixed," she said.
Ms. Johnson's sentiments were echoed by many of some 100 residents who turned out for last night's tenants council meeting at Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Previous meetings of the tenants council had drawn only a handful of residents.
Many of the residents sought information on how condemnation of the property would affect them. City officials have said no residents will be forced to leave the complex if renovations take place.
City officials condemned Bay Ridge Gardens last week after housing inspectors uncovered 600 violations and the landlord failed to respond adequately with a program to repair the 198-unit complex.
Last night, residents said they were intimately familiar with the violations, including faulty electrical wiring, doors that won't lock and flooded basement apartments.
The owners of the complex are Angelo Munafo of Cam Construction Co. in Timonium and John Pica Sr., the father of state Sen. John A. Pica Jr., a Baltimore Democrat. They have said they want to sell the property. A meeting was scheduled for 10 a.m. today between the owners and officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Now that the violations have been documented and the building has been condemned, residents wanted to know what the future held for Bay Ridge. Members of the tenants council; Aldermen Theresa DeGraff, a 7th Ward Republican and Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat; a community organizer for Maryland Low Income Housing; and two prospective buyers of the property presented the tenants with alternatives.
One was that residents could purchase and manage the property. Another was to form a partnership with the Landex Corp. and Community Preservation Development Corp. to renovate the complex. Landex, a Rhode Island-based firm, has renovated three developments for low- to moderate-income residents in Baltimore County.
Community Preservation is a Bethesda-based firm that renovated Admiral Oaks, formerly known as Boston Heights, in Annapolis. Boston Heights was condemned by the city in 1989 and reopened as Admiral Oaks last year. Both firms have been asked to present tenants with proposals for renovating Bay Ridge Gardens on April 15.