Community viewed as a draw to city

The Baltimore Sun

For two years, Quinhon N. Goodlowe had been searching for her first home. The Lombard Middle School teacher found it in the Townes at Orchard Ridge, a new community to which she plans to move in July.

Goodlowe said she had a difficult time finding affordable housing in a city neighborhood where she felt safe. At Townes at Orchard Ridge she found a new house in a new community that matched her income.

Townes at Orchard Ridge is being built on the sites of the former Freedom Village Apartments and Claremont Homes public housing complex in Northeast Baltimore. The new community, which is still under construction, will include two- and three-story townhouses, duplexes and a 77-unit, four-story apartment building.

Financial incentives are being offered to draw a families with a wide range of incomes. The community will have units that can be purchased or rented. Sale prices range from about $136,000 to $278,000.

Yesterday, Mayor Sheila Dixon and Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano were among the officials who dedicated a park in the fledgling community, in the Belair-Edison area.

The developers for the project are Pennrose Properties and Doracon Development. MEI Real Estate is selling the units.

Sandy J. Marenberg, president of MEI, said the community was created to draw "folks who wouldn't otherwise be able to buy new homes in the city."

Marenberg said there are few affordable new homes in the city, forcing teachers, nurses and other professionals to the suburbs and southern Pennsylvania.

At yesterday's ribbon-cutting ceremony, Raymond A. Skinner, secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, said that an estimated 25,000 new households will move to Maryland as a result of the military base realignment and closure process, known as BRAC.

"We really have a unique opportunity here in Baltimore City to encourage BRAC households to live right here in Baltimore City," Skinner said.

Under the Baltimore BRAC homeownership initiative, homeowners can receive $3,000 from Live Baltimore, which develops marketing strategies to attract BRAC households. An additional $3,000 will come from the state to encourage families to choose Baltimore.

The new community is expected to draw incoming military families because it is close to major highways, which makes it a "good commuter location" for Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade, Marenberg said.

Graziano said the community invigorates the neighborhood by offsetting the blight caused by the old public housing complex.

The new park was named after Anna Warren, a former Claremont Homes resident and chairwoman of the city housing authority Resident Advisory Board.

"We've got a lot to work for," Warren, said.

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