Elk­ton com­plex high­lights Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Week

Cecil Whig - - WE ATHE R - By JA­COB OWENS

ELK­TON

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— For Ed Sobocin­ski, the North Street Se­nior Res­i­dences could be summed up in one word: Classy.

The re­tired Delaware lawyer moved to the Elk­ton apart­ment com­plex about 18 months ago af­ter learn­ing of the new com­mu­nity from a neigh­bor. He was liv­ing with his fi­ancée when she passed away in 2014, and her fam­ily wanted to sell the home. Need­ing to find a new place to live quickly and on a fixed in­come, the North Street Se­nior Res­i­dences, which opened at 218 North St. in Jan­uary 2015, was a god­send to Sobocin­ski.

“The com­mon ar­eas were ex­cep­tional and I re­ally liked the units,” he said Tues­day af­ter­noon, not­ing the com­plex was close to his daugh­ter who lives in Fair Hill and his sons who live nearby in Delaware. “I didn’t know much about Elk­ton when I moved here, but there are a lot of ameni­ties nearby, in­clud­ing Union Hospi­tal just a short walk away. The se­cu­rity is ter­rific and the Elk­ton Po­lice De­part­ment is even across the street.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence here has been ex­cep­tional and I feel I made a good choice com­ing here.”

For Frank Hod­getts and Pat Wag­ner, two of the chief ar­chi­tects of the project that turned the for­mer Ce­cil County Jail into a 53-unit se­nior apart­ment com­plex, Sobocin­ski’s praise was worth all of the dif­fi­cult work that went into it.

But on Tues­day, their project was high­lighted by more than just one of its ten­ants, as it was show­cased by the Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Net­work of Mary­land (CDNM) dur­ing Mary­land Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Week, held Oct. 17-26.

The North Street Se­nior Res­i­dences was helped im­mensely by Mary­land Rental Hous­ing Works pro­gram funds, and is one of 38 projects statewide to have been helped by the gap-fi­nanc­ing fund run by the Mary­land De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment, said Odette Davis, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the CDNM, a net­work of non­prof­its, small de­vel­op­ers and com­mu­ni­ty­based or­ga­ni­za­tions. To date, more than $71 mil­lion has been al­lo­cated to help af­ford­able hous­ing projects worth more than $700 mil­lion come to fruition. To date, the pro­gram has helped cre­ate nearly 4,700 af­ford­able rental homes and ap­prox­i­mately 6,350 jobs for Mary­land res­i­dents.

Hod­getts, pres­i­dent of Home Part­ner­ship Inc., the non­profit af­ford­able hous­ing agency for Ce­cil and Har­ford coun­ties that co­or­di­nated the North Street project, said Mary­land Rental Hous­ing Works fund­ing ac­counted for $2.5 mil­lion of the es­ti­mated $8 mil­lion Elk­ton project — the se­cond largest to­tal be­hind a pri­vate in­vestor.

“We sold the vi­sion and Rental Hous­ing Works helped us achieve it,” he said.

Mean­while, Wag­ner, de­vel­oper with the project’s cen­tral con­trac­tor The Com­mu­nity Builders Inc., said the fin­ished prod­uct — which re­tained much of his­toric jail’s ar­chi­tec­ture while ren­o­vat­ing the struc­ture for adap­tive re­use — was some­thing Odette Ramos, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Net­work of Mary­land, ad­dresses at­ten­dees of a Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Week visit to the North Street Se­nior Res­i­dences in Elk­ton on Tues­day.

of which his com­pany was im­mensely proud.

“It was an in­cred­i­ble in­vest­ment … and it’s prob­a­bly one of my fa­vorite projects of my ca­reer,” he said. “Fund­ing was very dif­fi­cult on this one. Through­out the process, it was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween all par­ties that got this project done. And we’re pleased with the out­come.”

Brian O’Toole, DHCD deputy di­rec­tor, also heaped praise on the use of Rental Hous­ing Works funds to ac­com­plish the North Street project, which re­mains fully leased with lit­tle turnover since open­ing.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that the North Street Se­nior Res­i­dences has be­come a cor­ner­stone of Elk­ton,” he said, not­ing it not only cre­ated hous­ing but also jobs and lo­cal eco­nomic im­pact.

While Davis said that the CDNM’s slate of events this week un­der­score the ef­fec­tive­ness of pro­grams like the Rental Hous­ing Works fund, it also aims to em­pha­size the need for con­tin­ued fund­ing to the gov­er­nor’s of­fice and the Gen­eral As­sem­bly. Last year, the CDNM re­quested $25 mil­lion in state fund­ing but re­ceived only $12.5 mil­lion af­ter the state bud­get was fi­nal­ized.

Cur­rently, $54 mil­lion in projects are in the pipe­line awaiting gap fi­nanc­ing statewide, leav­ing a short­fall of nearly $41 mil­lion, Davis ex­plained.

“I know the gov­er­nor gets it, so we’re just hop­ing the leg­is­la­ture does too,” she said, not­ing that Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has agreed to fund at least $10 mil­lion each year through his term and the leg­is­la­ture has the abil­ity to add to that to­tal each year.

More of those state-as­sisted projects may be com­ing to Ce­cil County if Hod­getts can push for­ward with a project he’s been eye­ing in Ce­cil­ton. That plan, as pre­sented in 2014, is to build a 44-unit se­nior apart­ment com­plex near the Dol­lar Gen­eral off Route 213 on town-owned land.

Hod­getts said Tues­day that the project re­mains in the plan­ning phase, but added that re­cent con­ver­sa­tions with state hous­ing of­fi­cials were pos­i­tive and that they see po­ten­tial in the Route 213 cor­ri­dor for growth.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

Home Part­ner­ships Pres­i­dent Frank Hod­getts, left, gives back­ground on the North Street Se­nior Res­i­dences dur­ing a Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Week visit in Elk­ton on Tues­day.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

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