Madison Park-BHCA team hopes to modify renovation of Pedestal Gardens

Representatives from Madison Park and Bolton Hill have met with City Council member Eric Costello and are enlisting Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-40th district), in their shared effort to re-connect with the Boston-based developers TCB. TCB is behind the redevelopment of Pedestal Gardens apartments.

Madison Park took the lead with arranging a meeting with Costello this month.  Antoinette Peele and Nicholas Cohen from Madison Park Improvement Association set it in motion and BHCA president Amy Sheridan and representatives Lee Tawney and David Nyweide attended. Costello agreed to re-connect with TCB on behalf of neighborhood interests.

“One of the key points is that TCB’s communication with the community ended about a year ago. My impression is that communication with the community up to that point became so diffuse from trying to include people from all the neighborhoods directly or indirectly affected by Pedestal Gardens that TCB didn’t know who to work with when its plans solidified,” Nyweide said. TCB also had a leadership shake up.

Pedestal Gardens is a collection of five properties, built in the mid-sixties, that house low-income families in the Madison Park and Marble Hill neighborhoods to the west of Eutaw Place, as well as apartments on Bolton Hill’s western border at Eutaw Place on McMechen Street near the Sav-a-Lot grocery. In 2016 The Community Builders (TCB), a national non-profit developer and owner of some 14,000 units of affordable housing, acquired the properties and announced plans for a major do-over.

TCB is well along in the first-phase redevelopment of the units known as Marshall Gardens, involving 60 new or renovated townhouses and 27 apartments. But in February, without notice to neighborhood groups, TCB submitted designs to the city planning department’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel (UDAAP) for the large property at 1512 Eutaw Place, without seeking neighborhood review and comments. UDAAP does not have much authority, but it criticized the submitted plans as uninspired. UDAAP has agreed to meet again with TCB.

The plans provided for modernizing but showed no improvements likely to appeal to tenants able to afford market or workplace housing rental rates. Madison Park leadership, supported by BHCA, wants a consistent mix of market-rate townhouses suitable for resident ownership, in addition to rental-regulated apartments and HUD Section 8 units for low-income residents.

At BHCA’s May annual meeting member Charlie Duff, himself a housing developer, asked the senator to take notice and engage, since the properties are in his district. Duff has suggested ways that TCB might expand the number of townhouses and create additional green space without significantly reducing units set aside for low-income residents.

Ultimately the planning department and the city zoning agency must approve the designs, and the developers are hoping for city and state funds to pay for some of the construction and infrastructure renovation. TCB got similar support when in 2020 they redeveloped and re-opened Monument East, a building serving 170 elderly and disabled residents in partnership with the city housing authority. That project won awards from the Baltimore Business Journal and the Urban Land Institute.