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Westview project expanded

April 04, 2001

Westview project expanded



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Plans to replace Hagerstown's Westview public housing project with an expanded residential development have gotten bigger and more expensive.

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The project is expected to cost $70 million - $20 million more than the cost projection in February.

The 210 units at Westview Homes would be replaced with 400 new homes. Previous plans called for 330 new homes.

The new homes would be built on land now occupied by a trailer park, and along a longer Vickie Drive. That road, which now dead-ends, would be extended to connect West Washington Street and another proposed road south of Mont Valla Avenue.

A $42 million Westview redevelopment plan was denied federal funding last year. A version of the redevelopment plan presented at a February public meeting had a $50 million price tag. Both of those plans called for building 330 new housing units.

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The expanded $70 million, 400-unit, proposal was made public Tuesday when Hagerstown Housing Authority Executive Director Ted Shankle presented the plan to Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council.

A public meeting is scheduled for April 17 and Shankle said another public meeting probably would be held in mid-May.

The authority, which oversees public housing in the city, is proposing the redevelopment plan. Shankle asked the mayor and council to support the project by pledging grant funding, and waiving city permit and utility connection fees.

The council backed the smaller version of the redevelopment plan last year, but did not make a commitment Tuesday.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the mayor and council probably will discuss Shankle's request within the next two months.

The redevelopment plan presented Tuesday calls for demolishing Westview Homes, which has 210 housing units.

The 400 new homes that would be built in its place would include 150 public housing units, 140 rentals and 110 homes that would be sold, according to documents provided by Shankle.

Also under the proposal, a community center with an indoor basketball court would be built at Elgin Park, the trailer park near the park would be purchased and new homes would be built there. Property along West Washington Street would be purchased and the buildings on it demolished to make room for a child-care center and possibly a drug store.

Representatives from Pennrose Properties, a private Philadelphia company that is partnering with the housing authority on the project, told the mayor and council that funding for the $70 million project would come primarily from the federal government.

Pennrose Properties and the housing authority are applying for a $35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The funding plan also calls for $8 million from the state, $15 million in private funds, $5 million from the sale of the homes to be built, and $1.5 million over 5 years from the city. The requested city funds would come from the city's Community Development Block Grant, which is federal money the city disperses.

The HUD funding application is due in June, Shankle said. He asked if the council could act on his request before a new City Council takes office at the end of May. He said the time it could take to explain the project to a new group of council members could interfere with the June deadline.

-- A public meeting on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday, April 17, at 3 p.m. at the Westview Community Center at 961 Main Ave. in Hagerstown.

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