Condo complex proposed Project would serve senior citizens SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber


Magic Partnership wants to build condominiums at Marvin Gardens, just south of Liberty Road. With the proposed 55-unit retirement home, the developers could have a monopoly on this kind of housing for the elderly in South Carroll.

"As far as we know, there is no other senior citizen condo complex in this county," said Rosario D. Rizzo, partnership member.

Within two years of planning approval, senior citizens could be calling the 3.8-acre site at the intersection of Marvin Avenue and Ridge Road their home.

The county Board of Zoning Appeals will hear the Eldersburg partnership's proposal at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at the County Office Building. The proposal is a "permissible exception" for the area's R-10 zoning, said Mr. Rizzo.

"If we are lucky, we can break ground in the spring of next year," he said.

The partnership has been negotiating for about three years to develop the property. In addition to Mr. Rizzo, the other partners are Jeff Barnes, a county auto dealer, and John Serra, owner of J&B; Construction.

Mr. Rizzo, 55, said that if the county approves the preliminary plan, he will have an architect design the condominiums.

The partnership plans a residential community "with the look of homes, not apartments," he said.

Mr. Rizzo, the owner of Dick's Lawn and Garden Center on Liberty Road for 20 years, envisions seven one-story buildings, each divided into condominiums.

"The buildings will look like big ranchers, " he said. "No high-rises for the neighborhood and no steps for the seniors will make it more aesthetically appealing."

Several years ago, Mr. Rizzo discovered firsthand the difficulties of finding affordable housing for seniors. Hoping to move his mother here from New York, he looked in vain for affordable, low-maintenance housing near his own Eldersburg home. He could find nothing under $150,000. Like many other seniors, his mother didn't want to sell her home, move in with family members and lose her independence. He said she would have liked Marvin Gardens.

"This project would have enabled me to have my own mother near me, but on her own," he said.

"A lot of seniors want to move to something smaller with less maintenance, but the new house is often more expensive than they can afford."

Marvin Gardens will offer buyers a manageable home "without tremendous monthly payments," he said. Many of his customers at the garden center have moved to the county from Baltimore and have already expressed interest in the project, he said.

"Carroll County is ideal for senior citizens," he said. "It's a nice, quiet area with clean air and little crime."

Buyers will be able to choose among eight floor plans, from 700-square-feet, one-bedroom units to spacious two-bedroom suites. The units would be "ideal for retired couples or senior singles," he said.

Prices would range from $60,000 to $70,000 for the homes, with all appliances.

The location, less than a mile from Liberty Road, is within walking distance of shopping, offices and other conveniences.

"Our property is close to Carrolltowne Mall, doctors and dentists, and Eldersburg Care Center [an elderly day-care facility]," he said. "Everything is within walking or a short drive's distance."

"There are also three churches of different denominations nearby," said his wife, Jo M. Rizzo.

The condo owners would have city water and sewer service. The builder would not disturb the lot's older trees, which act as a buffer to nearby homes. The condo owners also would have space to cultivate their own gardens.

Owners would govern themselves through a condominium association.

"Magic Partnership would control the condo association until about 80 percent of the buildings are occupied," he said. "Then, we would turn it over to residents."

One building would also house a community center, which residents could use for social gatherings.

Mr. Rizzo plans to keep his landscaping business on Liberty Road, while Marvin Gardens gets off the ground.

"The project is right up the street," he said. "We are going to be neighbors and friends."

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