Builder on Renaissance Plaza team Roizman adds nonprofit group BALTIMORE CITY


Seeking to strengthen the team he assembled to buy and upgrade the Renaissance Plaza apartments in North Baltimore, developer Israel Roizman has added a local home builder with extensive knowledge of Baltimore neighborhoods.

The Baltimore Corp. for Housing Partnerships, a nonprofit group that has created 700 residences since its founding in 1984, has begun working with a joint venture of Roizman and Companies of Norristown, Pa., and the Related Cos. of New York.

Roizman and Related have been negotiating since April to buy the complex of three historic buildings in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood. Built between 1912 and 1926, the complex includes the Emersonian at 2502 Eutaw Place, the Esplanade at 2525 Eutaw Place and Temple Gardens at 2601 Madison Ave.

The state of Maryland took control of the buildings after a Rockville-based developer defaulted on a $7 million state loan in 1991. A state-appointed receiver, Financial Conservators Inc., is negotiating the sale on behalf of the state.

Mr. Roizman said this week that he asked the partnership to join his team because he wanted to work with a community-based group that has strong experience in affordable housing and a feel for the Reservoir Hill community.

Mr. Roizman said he is negotiating a contract with the state that calls for his group to pay $7 million for the properties.

He said the renovation would cost another $26 million to $28 million, including reconstruction and financing costs.

He described the work as a total "gut rehab," including all-new mechanical systems and appliances and removal of lead paint and asbestos. Some hallways and apartments would be reconfigured, reducing the number of apartments from 317 to about 300.

He said the contractors would comply with federal standards for historic preservation on the exterior and in certain portions of the interior.

Mr. Roizman said he has applied for federal, state and city funds to pay for the renovation and would expect to begin construction in January. Under his funding plan, monthly rents would range from $300 to $980, depending on the apartment and the tenant's income level.

His plan calls for 40 percent of the rehabilitated apartments to be rented to people who make 40 percent to 50 percent of the median income for the area, which is $44,700. Another 40 percent of the apartments would be rented to people who make 50 percent to 60 percent of the median income, and the remaining 20 percent would be rented to people who make 60 percent or more of the median income.

Kris Schlack, past president of the Upper Eutaw-Madison Improvement Association, said her group is concerned that the project reflect the economic diversity of the neighborhood.

"To us, this is not just a housing project. It's a community rebuilding project. We don't want to see anybody excluded on the basis of income."

Ms. Schlack said a community resident recently wrote to the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, asking that Secretary Henry Cisneros consider making Renaissance Plaza a national prototype for affordable housing and loosen some of the restrictions so the income categories are more flexible.

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