Mission First Housing Group, The Henson Development Co. and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City celebrated the Grand Opening of 1234 McElderry Apartments and the Groundbreaking of Somerset II Apartments, today. These projects are part of the Perkins Somerset Oldtown (PSO) Transformation Plan.
“Perkins Homes once epitomized decades of intentional local and federal policies to concentrate poverty and disinvest in our communities. Our PSO Transformation Plan is about reversing years of inequity by creating a mixed-income community that will first and foremost benefit the physical, environmental, social, and financial health of our public housing residents,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Today marks an important step in the realization of our mutual goal: providing quality affordable housing for our most vulnerable residents, all while advancing equity.”
The six-year PSO Transformation Plan will create 1,345 new apartments, doubling the amount of available, high-quality housing, including one-for-one replacement of 629 aging public housing apartments. Located minutes from Downtown Baltimore and the thriving Fells Point waterfront, the Plan spans 244 acres and is designed to create a diverse community that will enable residents to live in economically integrated, high-quality housing with exceptional amenities.
“We mark two milestones today with the completion of this beautiful building and the beginning of construction on the next one, Somerset II, right across the street,” said HABC President and CEO Janet Abrahams. “We made a commitment to the residents who lived in this community that when we rebuild, they can come back, and as these first residents return today, they are finding amenities and features they could not even imagine at this site before. As this neighborhood develops further, they will see the whole plan come to fruition.”
Mission First, The Henson Development Co. (THC) and HABC are undertaking an extensive redevelopment of the former Somerset Homes and Old Town Mall neighborhoods, centrally located between downtown Baltimore and the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical Campus.
“The Henson Development Company and Mission First Housing Group have successfully partnered on award winning multi-family/mixed-income housing projects for over 17 years. We are excited to have added the Housing Authority, DHCD and Baltimore City to our team, who share our vision and purpose to provide luxury housing to all. The Perkins and Somerset residents and local stakeholders walked with us every step of the way, sharing their passion and commitment to this new neighborhood of choice. This project represents what can be achieved when you build for people with people,” said THC’s Principal, Dana Henson. “This project is the culmination of hard work and dedication coupled with exceptional teamwork. We faced many obstacles since this project started in 2014. But no obstacle could stop the commitment we all had to make this dream a reality for the Perkins and Somerset residents.”
Officially open today, 1234 McElderry Apartments located at 1234 McElderry Street, is a 104 unit, mixed-income rental property, and the first completed community phase of the PSO Transformation Plan. The four-story apartment community features amenities for residents including a fitness center, club room, cyber lounge, two courtyards and 92 secured garage parking spots, as well as premier first-floor retail space. The community will serve individuals and families with a range of incomes.
The team also broke ground on Somerset II, a 240,000 sq. ft. mixed-income apartment community located at 520 Somerset and 525 North Aisquith Streets. This project will bring 192 mixed-income apartments, including 100 apartments to replace former public housing residences. This first twinning tax credit deal to close in the State of Maryland, features amenities for residents including a fitness center, club room, a spacious courtyard, secured garage parking, as well as premier first-floor retail space. The community will serve individuals and families with a range of incomes. 520 Somerset is centrally located to many community amenities, designed to have the project fit into the fabric of the surrounding community. The development is one part of a masterplan to restore the street grid around Somerset Street, and use the planned open space/park in front of the development as a connection to the community.
“At HUD, we are proud to do our part to invest in communities and increase opportunities for people,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman. “These sites are a testament to what happens when localities leverage federal funds awarded by HUD and other public and private resources with a shared vision and purpose. They are also the types of investments that will be made possible in even more communities with President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. The Build Back Better agenda would dramatically increase our supply of affordable housing by producing or preserving millions of affordable places to live. By continuing to come together in support of investments and policies like those in the Build Back Better agenda, we can provide Americans with the chance to live each day with dignity and hope.”
Somerset Homes also includes Somerset III and Somerset IV, projects that are in pre-development, as well as a 1.3-acre park along Central Avenue and retail space, featuring a much-needed grocery store providing access to healthy foods. The completed redevelopment of Somerset Homes will ultimately replace 275 apartments beyond repair and add a total of 558 apartments across all four properties. The team is also developing the southern portion of Oldtown Mall that will bring retail space, a 50,000 sq. ft. merchandise mall, a 120-key hotel, an Entrepreneurial Incubator HUB, office space, a 220 unit mixed-income apartment building and 2 parking garages.
“Mission First is grateful to the residents of Perkins and Somerset Homes who provided the vision for PSO and attended hundreds of meetings to share their vision and ensure that the PSO development occurs,” said Sarah Constant, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Development for Mission First Housing Group. “It was important for us to ensure that the original residents had the opportunity to return to an affordable home in the neighborhood where they have lived, raised children and built community.”
For more information about the PSO Transformation Plan, visit the project website at https://www.habc.org/habc-information/programs-departments/planning-development/pso-transformation/.
About Mission First Housing Group
Mission First Housing Group develops and manages affordable, safe and sustainable homes for people in need, with a non-profit, mission-driven focus on the most vulnerable. Mission First currently provides affordable housing and services to more than 5,500 people in nearly 4,000 apartments, serving populations in need, such as veterans, survivors of domestic violence, seniors and the disabled. More information at www.missionfirsthousing.org
About Henson Development Company
The Henson Development Company, Inc. (THC), a 100% family owned and operated minority-owned business enterprise, is a fully integrated real estate developer, consultant and program management corporation based in Baltimore, Maryland. The firm’s vast portfolio includes low-to-moderate income rental and homeownership units, elderly housing, garden and high-rise facilities, and townhouses and market rate integration with affordable housing. THC is committed to revitalizing communities and developing lives. More information at www.hensondevelopmentco.com
HABC is the fifth largest public housing authority in the U.S., providing quality affordable housing for more than 23,000 households. The agency creates diverse and vibrant communities, provides opportunities for self-sufficiency, and builds pathways for strong partnerships. #bmoreHABC