Apartment Complex in Downtown Ellicott City Proposed By County – Sun Article

Man with bullhornEllicott City housing complex idea surprises neighbors

Near Hilltop Housing redevelopment

By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun
8:46 p.m. EST, February 10, 2011


Howard County housing officials’ newly revealed plan to build a 76-unit apartment house and parking garage on public land in downtown Ellicott City has caught residents and nearby business owners by surprise.

“Transparency, community involvement and shared concern about the preservation of Historic Ellicott City has vanished from this dialogue overnight,” Fels Lane resident Bill Withers complained in an e-mail. He and other residents who live near the Hilltop Housing public housing complex were taken aback by the proposal, which came after months of meetings about the older and larger plan to demolish and rebuild an expanded, mixed-income community in place of Hilltop’s 94 units of aging public housing.

The idea, according to deputy county housing director Thomas P. Carbo, is to redevelop a county-owned parking lot, near Hilltop just behind the 1790 Thomas Isaac log cabin on Main Street, into an L-shaped, four-story apartment complex designed to fit the look of Ellicott City’s business district. The county’s Housing Commission is the legal entity that owns and operates public housing.

The plan first came to light Feb. 1, when Carbo presented it to a local historic preservation group. The idea, Carbo said, is to use the opportunity of the Hilltop redevelopment to add this extra element.

The new residential buildings would shield a multilevel garage that would provide spaces for residents and still add 30 more public spaces. About 60 percent of the new one- and two-bedroom residential units would be market rent, or unsubsidized, he said. The county government owns the lot, not the Housing Commission, which means an ownership transfer of the land would have to be approved by the County Council.

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