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New surroundings suit family just fine

November 13, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A woman who is to be the first resident of the new Gateway Crossing housing development began moving in Wednesday.

Angela Stewart, 29, signed a lease for a three-bedroom, two-story home Wednesday and began moving in Wednesday night. She was to move in more of her possessions tonight and said she expected to be settled in perhaps by Monday.

Stewart previously lived in the Westview Homes public housing project, which was razed to make room for Gateway Crossing.

The Gateway Crossing home has bigger bedrooms and bigger bathrooms than those at her Westview residence, Stewart said.

"It looks a lot better. It is beautiful," Stewart said. "It is so much different."

With the help of her two children, Stewart moved a microwave oven and other kitchen items into her new home Wednesday.

"I like it because it smells so good in here," her daughter, Tayana Stewart, 7, said.

Her son, Mizayah Norris, 4, said he likes the fact that every room has cable television hook-up. Their Westview home had cable hook-up only in the living room, his mother said.

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

The 600 people who lived in the 210-unit Westview Homes had to find other housing during construction of the 400-unit Gateway Crossing development.

Shankle has estimated the project's total cost at $73.5 million.

Stewart has always lived in the city's West End, growing up in her mother's house, which she said also is in that part of the city.

She said she lived in Westview Homes for about six years, and lived in Noland Village for about 16 months during the razing of Westview Homes and the construction of Gateway Crossing.

Having Stewart ready to take up residence is a welcome milestone for the project, Ted Shankle, housing authority executive director, said Wednesday.

"We just think it is great that the Westview residents are starting to move back," he said.

Since early August, the Hagerstown Housing Authority has received 309 applications for the 209 rental units that will be available, Shankle said. Of the 309 applications, 55 are from former Westview residents.

Former residents are to 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.

Fifty-five people have pre-qualified in applications for 78 homes going up for sale as part of the project and 32 have made down payments, he said.

Shankle said the first of those who are buying the homes for sale will move in within the next few weeks.

In the new class-integrated neighborhood, rented and owned property will be intermingled, a step housing authority officials have said they hope will reinvigorate the West End community.

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

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

A buyer of a Gateway Crossing home will be required to live in the home for at least five years. Those who move earlier will be required to give any profit from the sale of the home to the housing authority, Shankle said.

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