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Westview demolition first step in West End revitalization plan

July 21, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Demolition of the Westview Homes public housing complex is the first step in a grand redevelopment plan designed to revitalize Hagerstown's West End.

The barracks-style housing units that are crowded into 15 acres just north of Elgin Boulevard and plagued with plumbing, electrical and other problems must be torn down to make way for the new single-family homes and duplexes that will occupy 45 acres between Elgin Park and Vickie Drive, Hagerstown Housing Authority Executive Director Ted Shankle said.

"Westview is physically, socially and economically distressed," he said. "The whole gist of this project is to revitalize that area."

A federal program that has provided funds to overhaul ailing public housing complexes nationwide made the Hagerstown project possible.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in October 2001 announced a $27.3 million HOPE VI program grant to help fund the $73.5 million Gateway Crossing project. A variety of other state and federal funding sources - including $1.5 million in federal money that the City of Hagerstown is charged with dispersing - will cover the balance, Shankle has said.

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The HOPE VI program's primary goal is to "break the monoculture" of traditional public housing - which mostly involved warehousing poor families living on public assistance - by opening the housing field to mixed-use development and mixed-income housing, according to the HUD Web site.

Gateway Crossing will eventually include a $4.5 million community center at Elgin Park and 368 new homes and 32 renovated homes for people with various incomes, Shankle said.

The new homes will include 150 public housing units, 140 income-restricted rentals and 110 homes that will be sold for about $70,000 each - $55,000 less than they will cost to build, he said.

The Housing Authority will only be able to rent the income-restricted units to individuals or families whose incomes do not exceed $40,000 per year, after a number of deductions, Shankle said.

Construction will be done in four phases with a targeted completion date of December 2005, he said.

The $10.7 million first phase will include demolition of existing homes and construction of the community center and 83 new homes, some which should be finished by the end of next year, Shankle said.

Staff writers Scott Butki and Dan Kulin contributed to this story.

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