The troubled 757-unit Valley Brook Apartments complex in Glen Burnie, where crime and drugs once flourished, has a new name and a Boston-based owner who has begun a $38 million rehabilitation project.
Corcoran Jennison Co. Inc. has begun replacing kitchen cabinets and appliances and bathroom furnishings, refinishing floors and adding new carpets throughout the 32.8-acre complex, a project that is to be finished by December 1996.
The company took over a month ago, two years after a team of six county police officers began working to rid the complex of drug dealers who often flagged down visitors in the parking lots and frightened residents.
"It's been drug-free for two years and we intend to keep it that way," said Sgt. Donald J. Hauf Jr., who supervised the team. "Once an area gets a reputation, it takes a long time for it to go away. But word is starting to get out it's not the way it used to be."
A. Kenton Drury, vice president of Corcoran Jennison's Laurel office, said yesterday that he believes the drug problem is "pretty much eradicated."
Mr. Drury and Sergeant Hauf said Corcoran Jennison will pay for off-duty county police officers to patrol the property to guard against the return of trouble.
Corcoran Jennison has a national and local reputation for turning around developments that have fallen into disrepair.
The company rehabilitated the Villages at Montpelier in Laurel in 1982, Pentridge Apartments in Baltimore in 1984 and Harbor Point in Boston in 1989.
When the firm took over the 26-building complex of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments off Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard in June, they renamed it Villages at Marley Station.
It is the third name change in a little more than a decade for the complex that opened in the mid-1960s as St. George's Gate.
Only about half the units are occupied, Mr. Drury said.
Tenants will be housed in the unoccupied apartments while renovations are going on, then moved back to their own units when the work is finished.
The first renovated units should be available by October.
In addition to interior work, Corcoran Jennison plans to landscape the grounds, replace windows, and repair and replace roofs.
The company also will build two new tot lots, a swimming pool, pool house, community center and a fitness center.
An intercom-entry system that allows residents to admit visitors, combined with a closed-circuit camera, will be installed in the lobbies of each building.
Mailboxes will be replaced.
The company also will open a residents' service office in the community building to set up programs to meet the needs of residents, such as after-school day care.
"You have to create a sense of community," said Mr. Drury.
He said residents will be consulted about what kinds of programs they would like to see at the complex.
Corcoran Jennison is financing the project through a combination of housing tax credits authorized by the state, tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds issued by the county, and federal loan guarantees.
Veronica M. Hall, 39, has shared an apartment with her twins and her grandson for nearly a year at the complex and said she is impressed by the changes Corcoran Jennison has started.
Already, the company has started summer programs to teach children arts and crafts and it is setting up a neighborhood watch and a community association, something residents have never had, Ms. Hall said.
"I think it's going to be nice once they get it together as long as they mean what they say," she said.