An unlikely partnership between several Baltimore-area public and private investors has fostered the repurposing of an old stadium into an affordable continuing care retirement community (CCRC), a project that’s been nearly 15 years in the making.
The Govans Ecumencial Development Corporation (GEDCO) was one of the many competitors vying for the site of Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium, a decrepit landmark built in 1950 that once served as a professional baseball and football arena for the Orioles and Ravens.
Renamed “Stadium Place,” the development is the product of approximately $80-$100 million invested by GEDCO and its public and private investors since the non-profit was awarded the old Memorial Stadium site in 1999, says Rev. John Sharp, GEDCO’s founder and first president.
Now more than a decade into project development, Stadium Place is still about 6-8 years from being finished, notes Steve Proctor, CEO of Presbyterian Senior Living (PSL).
One of the development partners creating market rate housing on the Stadium Place campus, the not-for-profit PSL’s experience with projects financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made the company a valuable partner in the development process, according to Sharp.
PSL recently broke ground on its market rate apartments, called Heritage Run, of which the company will be 75% partner. Units for Heritage Run will cost about $1,000-$2,000 a month per resident.
PSL has worked with GEDCO on other projects in the past and has long been a supporter of the organization’s vision to give individuals access to high-quality senior housing supportive services—the same that would be available at a CCRC, but geared toward those with limited incomes.
“What you can do when people have resources is one thing, but when people have limited incomes, how do you give them those same services?” Proctor said.
With a vision of providing senior care options to people of varying economic circumstances at the forefront of Stadium Place, the campus currently offers four apartment buildings for rent.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Court Apartments, Venable Apartments II, Ednor Apartments I and Ednor Apartments II are four high-rise buildings with capacity for more than 350 low- and moderate-income adults aged 62 and older.
The 71-unit Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Court Apartments were completed and fully occupied in 2004, with $5.8 million in funding coming from HUD Section 202 and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
The Venable Apartments II, named after the street the building is located near, has 74 units. Completed and fully occupied by the middle of October 2006, these apartments received $5.6 million HUD 202 funds and $700,000 in Baltimore City HOME funds.
Baltimore-based nonprofit Enterprise Homes developed the Ednor I and II apartments and is a 50% partner in the two buildings.
The $10.6 million Ednor I apartments include 110 units funded by low-income housing tax credits, and includes $900,000 of Maryland Rental Housing Production Program funds, Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program, and Maryland Affordable Housing Trust. The Ednor I apartments were completed and fully occupied in late 2004.
Enterprise Homes teamed up with GEDCO as co-developer for the $11.9 million, 85-unit Ednor II independent living building, which includes 81 low income housing units and four market rate units. Ednor II was completed and fully occupied in 2009.
With a total of 340 units comprised of one- and two-bedrooms within Stadium Place’s campus, apartments feature a large community room and computer lab, along with several amenities specific to certain buildings, such as a movie theater at Venable II and a convenience store and beauty salon at Ednor Apartments.
The campus also features a YMCA, which Sharp notes encompasses 13 acres of the 30-acre space. A key component of GEDCO’s community outreach during the site bidding days, the local “Y” offers a playing field, as well as a number of other amenities for recreation, such as fitness center and indoor swimming pool.
Comprised of 20-25 congregations of various religious denominations, GEDCO’s chances of winning the site bid back in 1999 seemed like a long shot, especially with added pressure coming from for-profit companies and other developers also contending for the stadium site. Locally-based Johns Hopkins University was also one of the “giant” players interested in the site, Sharp said.
After creating a proposal for what it had in mind for the Memorial Stadium site, the ecumencial organization and several of its investors—including the local YMCA and nonprofit Presbyterian Senior Living—presented its plans for the project to Baltimore’s four major neighborhood groups.
“The city was going to listen to what the neighborhoods wanted,” said Sharp.
But GEDCO had something else that other contending developers lacked—a substantial community presence backed not only by religious congregations, but by public and private investors as well, which included the State of Maryland, City of Baltimore, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, nonprofit Enterprise Homes, and several others.
It was this association of partners that helped GEDCO invest the estimated $80 million that has gone into the project today.
“I don’t think we could have won the site without creating some partnerships,” Sharp said. “We were basically a group of congregations and ministers, but we had built a pretty good reputation.”
Part of this reputation included GEDCO’s earlier developments, particularly the non-profit’s Epiphany House, a 33-unit housing community for low-income seniors and people with disabilities aged 55 and older.
Since many of the retirement communities surrounding Baltimore had “fairly expensive” entrance fees and monthly rents, notes Sharp, a solution was necessary for low-income seniors who might not be able to put portions of their incomes to meet these payments.
“We knew we had to do something so that when they became sick we had a place to send them,” said Sharp.
The Green House Residences on campus, a four-story building that can house up to 49 seniors of varying economic circumstances, is where residents of Stadium Place can receive long-term care services.
At least 60% of the Green House units must be reserved for Medicaid-eligible residents, and the model aims to provide a place where seniors can “maximize their physical, social and spiritual potential through a holistic continuum of support services and senior housing,” according to GEDCO.
The Green House building will also be part of a larger “village center,” a commercial development that includes talks of a restaurant, a pharmacy as well as several other public features where residents can engage with one another.
As with all GEDCO properties, Annapolis, Md.-based Habitat America LLC provides property management for Stadium Place, and is currently accepting applications for the newest building on campus, Ednor Apartments II.
With four standing apartments, two market-rate ones already underway, a commercial center to be built, an on-campus YMCA, as well as other possible developments being discussed, the Stadium Place project continues to march forward with development.
“It’s one of those things that’s an overnight success after 15 years of hard work,” joked Proctor.
Written by Jason Oliva