New apartments at Somerset Homes site get ready to open —with a waitlist
EJP serves as development advisor and program manager to the Housing Authority of Baltimore City for the implementation of the Perkins-Somerset-Oldtown Transformation Plan. This development is the first of several planned phases.
Jan 7, 2021, 11:58am EST
Melody Simmons, Reporter
A new 104-unit apartment development that replaces a vacant lot off Central Avenue where Somerset Homes once stood already has a waitlist of more than 300, the developer said on Wednesday.
1234 McElderry will be the first new multi-family project to open in the emerging mixed-income community at the long-vacant Somerset site. The area is part of a sweeping redevelopment of 200 acres in East Baltimore that kicked off three years ago.
The four-story 1234 McElderry is getting final touches this month, with the first tenants set to move in by March.
The waitlist of 319 individuals and families for the units will spillover to potential leases in three other multi-family buildings planned for the site that will hold an additional 449 apartments. Two buildings with a total of 264 apartments will break ground in February, said Dana Henson, principal of lead developer The Henson Co., on Wednesday.
"Because we have all this interest, we’ll be able to provide housing for more people," Henson said. "The idea is to create a mixed income community that provides housing opportunities on a luxury level comparable with Harbor Point and Harbor East at affordable pricing. We will also provide employment and economic development opportunities for residents to take advantage of."
Henson said the vision for the former Somerset site is to create a connection between Johns Hopkins Hospital and City Hall, in a space she calls the "hole in the donut." The neighborhood was once was a busy, dense African American community anchored by Oldtown Mall, which today is nearly vacant and blighted.
Plans by Henson are also underway to redevelop Oldtown Mall with new retail, office space, workforce training programs and a hotel that will once again make it an anchor in the area, Henson said.
The Somerset site will hold a 40,000-square-foot grocery store as a street-level anchor to an $80 million, 185-unit apartment tower. Henson said two grocery chains have expressed interest in leasing the space at Central Avenue and Orleans Street. The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed some of the development and leasing plans over the past eight months, she added.
"It is going to provide a connection in the community and a destination," Henson said. "It will become a community of choice for all income levels in the city."
1234 McElderry will have one, two and three-bedroom luxury units. They will all have upscale amenities like kitchens with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, and a club room, business center and updated park space nearby off North Central Avenue.
Residents from Perkins Homes, now being demolished north of Harbor East, are eligible for 50 of the units at the 1234 McElderry development. Other units are designated affordable housing with below-market-rate rents, and 20 of the apartments at 1234 McElderry will lease at market rate with rents ranging from $1,300 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,000 for a three-bedroom unit.