Residents of a garden apartment complex in North Baltimore were informed by letter yesterday that they would have to find new homes when their leases are up, because the private Calvert School is buying the property for use as a middle school.
The 103-year-old Calvert School, one of the city's oldest private schools, has agreed to buy the apartment complex in the 4300 block of N. Charles St. and an adjacent mansion for an undisclosed sum. School officials plan to raze the 83-unit complex and use the mansion for a middle school program, which will include seventh and eighth grades.
Calvert pupils attend pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade classes in a schoolhouse on Tuscany Road. The middle school may open by fall 2002, school officials said in a letter to parents.
News of the deal came as a surprise to residents of 4300 North Charles Apartments, a series of three and four-story buildings.
"I just got the news [Friday]. It came as something of a shock," said Kitty Knott, who has lived in a three-bedroom apartment at the complex for more than a decade. "My children have told me they will help me search for a new home. We are all praying."
Knott and the other residents will be able to stay in their apartments for the duration of their leases, said Alfred W. Barry III, a consultant representing the school. Barry said he hoped surrounding neighborhood community associations, Tuscany-Canterbury and Guilford, would discuss with the school its expanded presence in the neighborhood.
One of the chief reasons for Calvert's expansion has been increased competition for limited spaces in private middle and high schools. Calvert pupils, upon graduating from sixth grade, sometimes have difficulty getting into the school of their choice because of the limited number of seats.
Headmaster Merrill S. Hall III issued a statement Friday, declaring that the school would cooperate with neighbors. He promised that the school would help displaced residents of the apartment complex with their relocation.
Knott, whose lease expires in December 2001, said she was glad to have so much time to look for a new home.
"I know the perfect place is out there," she said. "I just have to find it. Thank God I have family who will help me."
Sun staff writer Jamie Stiehm contributed to this article.