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Housing authority celebrates new Brooks apartment complex

September 23, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Visitors take a look around the new C. Williams Brooks apartment complex for low and very low income seniors, during the Hagerstown Housing Authority's grand opening ceremony on Friday.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

The Hagerstown Housing Authority's newest apartment complex was celebrated Friday at a grand opening, but it's already mostly occupied.

Executive Director Ted Shankle said 53 of the 60 apartments at the C. Williams Brooks building for senior citizens are occupied and the rest should be filled soon. The first tenant moved in in July, he said.

The complex is at 55 W. Baltimore St., across from The Herald-Mail. It is close to Potomac Towers, another housing authority complex.

The Brooks building cost $14.5 million, about two-thirds of which came from federal stimulus money.

Dozens of people gathered outside the building on a rainy Friday for a celebration held in a white tent.

Raymond A. Skinner, Maryland's secretary of housing and community development, said the construction project created almost 400 jobs.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., was scheduled to speak, too, but had to stay in Washington, D.C., because the Senate was in session.

Filling in, Cardin's Western Maryland representative, Robin Summerfield, noted that the complex is only three blocks from the center of Hagerstown.

"This is an example of urban planning done right," he said.

The project also received praise for its environmental features, including a geothermal heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system and a white roof, which absorbs less heat in the summer than a dark one.

The four-story building has a library, a computer room, a convenience store and a barber/beauty shop.

Each apartment has one bedroom and one bathroom.

The building was named in honor of Carolyn W. Brooks, who has chaired the housing authority's board for more than 20 years, and her grandfather T. Andrew Williams, who served on the board for about 14 years.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II joked that people usually don't have buildings named after them until after they died.

"Thank God they didn't do that this time," he said.

"I like the idea of smelling the roses while I can still smell them," Brooks said during her time at the lectern.

Brooks said the authority is careful in how it describes its clients' housing.

"'Project' is a no-no word ..." she said. "When it's finished, it becomes a housing community."

The property was the site of the former H.L. Mills service station, which was torn down.

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