For five years, the residents of Meade Village knew Building 14 only as an eyesore: defaced with graffiti, broken windows, floors and walls smeared with mud and paint, and plagued by a distinctive odor.
All traces of damage were gone yesterday, as Jerline Daniels showed off her new one-bedroom "garden" apartment, in the first building to receive a face lift as part of the village's new improvement plan.
"When I came to this apartment it was really bad," said Ms. Daniels, who has lived in Meade Village for about three years. "Everything was all busted up. I was surprised when they said they were going to renovate, but I love it. I hope I've improved it, too, with my own decorating."
The rejuvenation of Building 14 is the first of many changes that will be wrought in Meade Village with the help of a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Larry A. Loyd, executive director of Anne Arundel County's housing agency.
"This building posed a challenge," said Mr. Loyd. "But now we have continuing occupancy for empty-nesters and older residents who want some peace and quiet."
Mr. Loyd said that renovations to other buildings this summer will include new vinyl siding, gutters and downspouts and interior improvements and new electrical wiring.
"This is a dramatic change in the community since I moved here three years ago," said Valorie Lindsey. "Things are really starting happen."
Melissa McCraney, president of the community association and a six-year resident of Meade Village, said she could remember when there "were fights every evening in the summer, and it was really drug-infested.
"We're not quite to the point where there are no drugs, but I don't think anyplace is these days," said Ms. McCraney.
She gave credit for the community's turn-around to Mr. Loyd, praising him for asking what could be done to improve the village.
Sometimes, Ms. McCraney said, it's the simplest improvements that can make a big difference, like new screen doors on the townhouses.
"None of the units have central air conditioning, and new screen doors will keep the flies out of your house," said Ms. McCraney. "These are important changes.
"People for a long time viewed the Housing Authority as a big white elephant that couldn't be defeated. Now, they know the Housing Authority is interested. Now, the neighborhood is beginning to show the love the residents have for one another."