3 vie to build housing Development groups seek county project for affordable homes


Three development groups are competing to build a townhouse development in Howard County for moderate-income families and first-time homebuyers.

The proposed development sites are in Elkridge, Guilford and Columbia.

The three proposals are in response to a request issued last month by the Howard County Housing Commission. The commission invited developers to submit plans for a 30- to 54-unit townhouse development. The project, to be financed with state and county money, will be targeted at families who earn between $20,000 and $35,000 a year.

"We're looking at doing a program which will afford our citizens an opportunity to achieve home ownership," said county housing director Leonard S. Vaughan.

"And, for those not quite ready, they can get into a program of leasing which would hopefully lead to home ownership."

Mr. Vaughan estimates the project will cost $4.5 to $5.5 million and will take about two years to complete. According to commission guidelines, the townhouses must have at least three bedrooms, and two-thirds of the development must be for rental housing, while one-third will be for sale.

The commission heard presentations last week from the developers whose proposals met its criteria for the project. Commissioners expect to choose a developer this week.

The first presentation was made by three companies working together on the project: Orchard Development Corp., of Ellicott City; Ryland Homes, of Columbia; and Unified Resources, a group of minority investors in the county.

The group has proposed to build the project on two sites. The 30 rental units, called Orchard Crossing, would be built on two acres behind the Oakland Ridge Industrial Center off Route 108. They would be on the same site as the Orchard Crossing apartments, a 187-unit garden apartment complex to be developed in the fall by Orchard Development.

The 24 Orchard Club townhouses would be built on a site off of Rowanberry Drive in Elkridge as part of the Orchard Club condominiums, a Ryland project under construction. The development group told the housing commission it could complete the project in five months.

Bozzuto and Associates, a Greenbelt-based developer, submitted a proposal to the commission calling for 42 townhouse units on a site in Guilford near Mission Road. The project, called the Courts at Guilford, calls for between 26 and 28 rental units and 12 to 14 units for sale.

The land is designated as a business zone but has been identified as a site to be changed to multi-family zoning in the comprehensive rezoning of the eastern county, said Richard Boales, a senior vice president with Bozzuto and Associates.

Mr. Boales said that construction could start in April of 1994 and estimated the building time at six to seven months.

The third proposal under consideration was submitted by the Enterprise Social Investment Corp., a subsidiary of the Enterprise Foundation, the nationally known Columbia-based developer of affordable housing.

Enterprise's proposal calls for the development of 54 townhouses, with 36 rental units and 18 for-sale units on an undetermined site in the Kendall Ridge neighborhood in Columbia's village of Long Reach. The land is owned by Howard Research and Development, the development arm of the Rouse Co.

The projected construction start date would be early 1995 with completion by the end of that year, said Chickie Grayson, a vice president with the Enterprise Social Investment Corp. Ms. zTC Grayson said the late start date is a result of the continuing land negotiations with HRD.

The commission's choice of a developer will depend on the project's cost, the developer's experience in producing affordable housing, the ability to complete the development within two years and the suitability of the site.

To finance the project, the commission plans to apply to the state's Community Development Administration for approximately $3 million in development costs and $1.5 million in mortgage assistance. The county will contribute between $900,000 and $1 million to the project, said Mr. Vaughan, the county's housing director.

The rental units are geared toward families with incomes of between $20,000 and $25,000 who are saving for a house. If necessary, the commission will work with them on budgeting, applying for mortgages and improving their credit rating.

"We want to help these families plan over the next three, four or five years so they can become homeowners," Mr. Vaughan said.

The commission expects the owners of the units for sale to have incomes ranging from $25,000 to $35,000.

The homes will have a market rate of about $110,000; however most of the owners won't qualify for sufficient mortgages to purchase it. To help families buy the homes, the commission is prepared to take out equity interests in the homes, to be paid back to the commission when the homes are sold.

The commission chose to target this project toward moderate, rather than low-income residents, because typically, obtaining financing for low income projects is difficult and the units must be heavily subsidized, said commission chairman James C. Landerkin.

In addition, the commission is nearing completion on 50 units of federally financed public housing for families with incomes below $25,000.

"Especially since the moderate-priced dwelling unit program failed to gain approval, moderately priced housing is a high priority with the commission," Mr. Landerkin said.

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