In the late 1940s and early '50s, Harundale was the grande dame of communities. Its rows of prewar housing were heralded in local papers as the booming place to be. Now much of Harundale's claim to fame, like Harundale Mall, has faded, but real estate agents still call the community a starter-home heaven.

Located a mile east of Glen Burnie and straddling Ritchie Highway, Harundale was the first suburban development to be constructed in the area. Each home, built on concrete slabs, with concrete walls and radiant heat, sold for less than $10,000.

In 1958, the community really hit the map when the Rouse Co. built Harundale Mall, the nation's first fully enclosed shopping complex east of the Mississippi. Residents still boast that a campaigning John F. Kennedy cut the ribbon to open the mall, and people came from all over the world to Harundale to check it out.

"Robert Mitchum had a house on the Eastern Shore, and he would come buy his suits at Harundale Mall and stop in here for a few drinks afterward," said Arthur "Otis" Fratt, owner of the Sunset Restaurant, a landmark steak and seafood establishment.

Harundale is still a place to find affordable housing and easy access to Baltimore, which is 20 minutes away.

Many buyers are getting into the two- to three-bedroom rancher and Cape Cod-style homes with government-backed loans and little or no money down.

The average price of a home in Harundale is $80,000, depending on the home's condition and the degree of renovation.

A few homes even sold for $100,000 this year, thanks to substantial additions such as 12-by-14-foot rooms in the back.

Many of the homes, which sit on lots of approximately one-fourth acre or less, have had smaller face lifts -- vinyl siding, landscaping, new shutters, a sun porch here and there -- but the general design has stayed the same.

"Those homes have appreciated every year and they always sell," said Mike O'Malley, an appraiser with Jones Gutcher and Associates. "It's a decent, stable community."

Virginia Downing, manager of Sunset Restaurant, has been a part of the Harundale community for 32 years. She purchased her house for $13,500, and her mortgage payments were $90 a month. Today, homes rent for $650 a month.

After raising two children in Harundale, Downing plans to stay in her two-bedroom home. The community has everything she needs -- easy access to medical services on Hospital Drive, the Social Security Administration and a branch of the Anne Arundel County Department of Health in the Harundale Professional Center on Aquahart Drive, as well as shopping at Marley Station.

Harundale Mall, which won several awards and acclaim for its unique architecture, went from boom town to bust after the construction of several strip malls along Ritchie Highway as well as Glen Burnie Mall (three miles north) and the Marley Station mall (one mile south).

Speculation among residents circulates about Harundale Mall's fate.

"Torn down or renovated, it will go one way or the other," said Charles Lester, who meets with his friend Robert M. Jackson regularly to walk around the mall and to talk over coffee.

Lester and Jackson remember the days when Harundale was swampland. Known as Saunders' Range, the land was used by the state as a rifle range and military installation.

In 1950, the land was purchased by Byrne Communities Inc., the developers of Harundale.

"Harundale is like most places," Jackson said. "Some parts are kept up, and some are pretty run down."

Fratt added: "We used to watch the cranes lowering the walls for the Harundale homes. Steel rafters, concrete walls -- if a tornado blows through here today, you can bet Harundale will still be standing."


Population: 32,000 (1990 census)

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes

Public schools: Glendale Elementary; Marley Elementary; Marley Middle; Glen Burnie High School

Shopping: Marley Station Mall; Harundale Mall; Glen Burnie Mall

Points of interest: Harundale Professional Center; Harundale Presbyterian Church B&A; Hiking/Biking Trail; Sunset Restaurant

Zip code: 21061

Average price of a single-family home: $80,000.

Based on sales during a 12-month period by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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