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Gateway Crossing opens home

June 21, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Among the more than 150 people who gathered Friday for a grand opening celebration of the $73.5 million Gateway Crossing development and to tour a recently completed model home was Greg Baker, who plans to move into the development.

Earlier this year, contractors finished demolition of the 50-year-old Westview Homes public housing project and started construction on the replacement community, Gateway Crossing, which Hagerstown Housing Authority officials hope will reinvigorate that part of the city's West End.

Like the 600 others who lived in Westview Homes, Baker had to move out of the housing project while it was demolished and replaced. While inconvenient, he thinks it is a worthwhile change for the region, he said.

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"It is for the good. I hope it works," Baker said.

He said he hopes it will keep the "riff-raff" out of the area.

Baker hopes to move out of Potomac Towers and into the new development later this year, he said.

People will be able to start moving in to the new development by August, Hagerstown Housing Authority Executive Director Ted Shankle said.

In the new class-integrated neighborhood, rental and owned property will be intermingled, which the Housing Authority hopes will reinvigorate the West End community and improve the city.

The first two-unit house has been completed, and work is under way on 56 others, contractors said.

Local and state elected officials - along with representatives of federal politicians and the developer, Pennrose Properties Inc. - spoke under a tent outside the model Gateway Crossing house Friday.

Construction of the first phase of the development is scheduled to be completed in the fall. Phase one includes 83 rental homes and 11 homes to be sold.

The 210-unit complex is being replaced with a 400-home project.

Most of the homes are two stories and a few will have garages, Housing Authority grants coordinator Ron Nair has said. The rental units will contain about 1,337 square feet while the homes to be sold will have 1,500 square feet, he said.

The cost to develop a new home for sale exceeds $150,000 but the Housing Authority will sell the new homes for between $69,000 and $79,000, Shankle said.

Buyers of Gateway Crossing homes will be required to live in the home for at least five years or, if they move earlier, to give the profit from the home sale to the Housing Authority, Shankle said.

The only Westview Homes building left standing is the Westview community center, which contractor Harkins Builders of Marriotsville, Md., is using as its headquarters for the project.

The project is about four weeks ahead of schedule, which Shankle and contractors said was impressive considering the recent rainy weather.

Former residents will be given priority over other applicants provided they meet new criteria. If they are not elderly or disabled, they must have been working for at least one year and have had no problems with their lease, Shankle said.

In addition to the homes, the contractor has begun construction of a community center at Elgin Park, he said.

The Elgin Station community center will be open and accessible to all West End residents, not just those in public housing.

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