City approves $1M loan to build affordable housing in Hampden

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A rendering shows one of the buildings planned for the Flamingo Place Apartments in Hampden. The apartments will include 42 affordable housing units and five market-rate units. Image courtesy of Quinn Evans Architects.

Affordable housing apartments are coming to Hampden after the Board of Estimates approved a $1 million loan Wednesday to help the developer pay for the construction project.

The Flamingo Place Apartments, which will be located west of Falls Road and near W. 40th Street, will include a total of 47 apartment units: 42 affordable housing units and five market-rate units.

James Riggs, vice president of Osprey Property Company, the developer behind the project, said the Flamingo Place Apartments will help fill the need for affordable housing in the north central part of Baltimore City.

“We have several projects in Baltimore City right now and I think if you look at where affordable housing developments in Baltimore City are typically built, if they’re not downtown, they’re usually located on the east side or the west side,” he said. “But there’s very few affordable housing projects developed in the north central part of the city, so we’re excited to be that pioneer.”

The Board of Estimates, which comprises the mayor, city council president, comptroller, director of the Department of Public Works and city solicitor, granted the $1 million loan through the HOME Investment Partnerships, a federal program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that provides grants to state and local governments to build, buy and rehabilitate affordable housing.

Among the affordable housing units in this project, there will be 13 one-bedroom units, eight two-bedroom units and 21 three-bedroom units.

The cost to rent those units will be based on the household’s income relative to the area median income (AMI). 

The 2019 median family income for the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson Metropolitan Statistical Area is $101,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Six of the affordable units will be reserved for a household with incomes that are 30 percent or less of the AMI, which is adjusted in relation to the family’s size. There will be 24 units reserved for tenants with incomes 50 percent or less of the AMI and 12 units for tenants with incomes 60 percent or less of the AMI, Riggs said.

Eight of the affordable units will also be Section 811 units, housing for people with disabilities who are also part of low-income households. Additionally, one of the three-bedroom units targeted to households earning 30 percent or less of AMI will be rent-assisted through a Housing Assistance Payment contract that will provide a $400-per-year subsidy.

Riggs said the proposed rent for the market-rate units is $1,010 for one-bedroom units and $1,310 for two-bedroom units.

Flamingo Place Apartments will be located at a currently empty plot between the northern end of Conduit Avenue and the southern end of Edgehill Avenue. Once completed, the apartments will be accessed from Edgehill Avenue.

The apartments will include stacked townhouses, with a mix of two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, and garden units, which will all have one bedroom.

All the apartments will come with in-unit washer and dryer hookups, but tenants will need to purchase or rent their own washer and dryer if they wish to haven them in their unit, Riggs said. The apartment complex will also have a centrally located laundry facility.

The complex will also feature a community room with a kitchenette, and a landscaped mews with a community patio.

Areas that have been designated as “Communities of Opportunity” are colored in blue, while areas which did not receive that designation are colored in gray (of the land portion of the map). Few Communities of Opportunity are located inside Baltimore City, but the site of the planned Flamingo Place Apartments is one of them. Map courtesy of MD iMAP.

Riggs said Osprey selected the Hampden site to build the Flamingo Place Apartments because it is located in a Community of Opportunity.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development designates Communities of Opportunity based on several indicators, such as the area’s income levels, population growth, poverty rate, vacancy rate, unemployment rate and test scores.

These areas have been identified as having better community health, economic opportunity and educational opportunity than the statewide average.

Riggs said there are very few designated communities within Baltimore City. Most are located in the surrounding counties.

But Hampden happens to fall within one of those few Communities of Opportunity in the city, which Riggs said made it a good location to build the Flamingo Place Apartments in an already successful neighborhood.

In the Board of Estimates agenda, city officials noted Hampden’s history of serving the working-class residents who lived near mills in the Jones Falls Valley.

“Now that many of the mill buildings have been repurposed for apartments, shops and offices, the neighborhood is now home to Baltimore’s trendiest restaurants, new high-end housing and strong sense of community,” the agenda said.

Osprey plans to begin construction on the Flamingo Place Apartments in early March and expects to complete the project in spring 2021, Riggs said.

In total, the project will cost $19 million, he added. 

In addition to the HOME Loan, the project will be funded through an approximately $12.7 million loan from Bank of America, more than $14 million in low-income housing tax credits, and a loan of about $180,000 from the Maryland Community Development Administration in conjunction with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation’s Affordable Rental Housing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

Marcus Dieterle

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  1. A lot of good with this project, but it is yet another over development in the 21211. This is not a vacant lot. It is a wooded green space.

  2. If I run the numbers correctly, the cost per unit for construction will be in excess of $400,000! That seems to be incredibly high. Possibly the author might want to dig into the cost and determine where the money’s going.

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