The top area official of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said last night that the agency supports a proposal by a Rhode Island-based company to buy and renovate the condemned Bay Ridge Gardens complex.
Maxine S. Saunders, HUD area manager in Baltimore, expressed support for Landex Corp., an investment company, at a meeting last night in Annapolis City Hall at which 35 Bay Ridge residents also supported the proposal.
"We are very, very impressed and proud of what Landex Corp. has done in their other project at Circle Terrace in Lansdowne [Baltimore County], and they have a very good track record with our department," Ms. Saunders said. "We are very much supportive of this effort and we are lucky that Landex is involved.
"Without them, we would have a vacant and condemned building and all the people living there would have to be dislocated."
The 197-unit low-income apartment complex was condemned by city officials in March when housing inspectors found about 600 housing code violations, including loose plastic flapping in open windows, corroded electrical wiring, stuck fire doors and faulty plumbing during a review last winter.
The current landlords -- CAM Construction Co. of Timonium and John S. Pica Sr. -- are set to sell the property to Landex, which is waiting for financial approval from several banks and for loans from state and federal agencies.
Landex has agreed to major renovations at the complex -- installing new roofs, furnaces and siding, and replacing kitchens, bathroom fixtures and windows.
The estimated cost of the renovations is $8 million to $12 million, according to Alderman Theresa DeGraff, a Republican who represents the city's 7th Ward.
"If renovations are not completed by January, these residents will be displaced out of their homes," she said.
Resident Joyce Johnson, who testified at the meeting conducted by by the council's Housing and Community Development Committee, agreed.
"I'm 47 years old, I work every day, and I think I have a right to know what's going on in my community," Ms. Johnson told the committee. "I want a decent community and affordable housing."
As of 10 p.m. last night, the committee had not voted on the Landex proposal.