The opening of one apartment building and groundbreaking of the other are two major segments of the Perkins Somerset Oldtown (PSO) revitalization project as part of the HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman was joined by leaders from the city and the housing sector to celebrate the grand opening of a newly constructed apartment building at 1234 McElderry Street on Sept. 24.

The ceremony also included the groundbreaking of the nearby Somerset II Apartments. The opening of one apartment building and groundbreaking of the other are two major segments of the Perkins Somerset Oldtown (PSO) revitalization project as part of the HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

PSO’s extensive plan is expected to have a transformative impact on thousands of city residents, reshaping “neighborhoods of extreme poverty into sustainable, thriving, mixed-income communities.”

In addition to Todman, Mayor Brandon Scott, Council President Nick Mosby, State Senator Cory McCray and Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) President Janet Abrahams were present to deliver remarks and celebrate the culmination of seven years of partnership, planning, construction and fundraising.

The materialization of the PSO redevelopment project is a sign that the city is making progress on equitable neighborhood development, Scott said during his time at the podium.

“I am thrilled to be here on this wonderful, great day. I think we all know that it took a lot for us to get here,” Scott said.

“Of course, as mayor I get to do a lot of these events, but today’s event stands out. When you think about the history of Baltimore, when you think about redevelopment, that history doesn’t mean most of the time that people are going to come back. That means people are going to be displaced and they will never see their neighborhood again. That’s not what PSO is about, that’s not what Somerset is about and that’s something we can all recognize and celebrate today.”

East Baltimore’s newest housing development at 1234 McElderry Street is a 104-unit, mixed-income rental property with roughly 2,400 square feet of ground floor retail and parking. The four-story building concludes the first phase of the PSO Transformation Plan and will feature various amenities, including a fitness center, club room, cyber lounge and two courtyards. Leasing began this past summer.

Ultimately,  the transformation plan will result in the replacement of 629 public housing units and creation of 1,345 new mixed income units.

According to the HABC, the PSO vicinity encompasses a 244-acre transformation zone that is home to nearly 6,000 residents in 2,122 households. The revitalization effort, made possible in part by a $30 million grant from HUD, will cover a number of community improvements – ranging from the creation of a two-acre park space to the demolition of Lombard Middle School, making way for the new City Springs Elementary/Middle School.

Other financiers of the estimated 1.1 billion investment that will fund the six-year PSO Transformation Plan are the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Community Development Administration, HABC, Fulton Bank, Chase, Capital Management Fund, Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development and Berkadia.

Following the ceremony, guests were invited to tour the 1234 McElderry apartment building. Todman, who was recently sworn into her position with HUD under the Biden Administration, enjoyed the warm welcome in her trip to Baltimore.

“We at HUD believe that when we bring together the right partners at the state level, at the local level and the community, magic like this can happen. I’m so proud of this site, that the people who were disinvested so many years ago are feeling a sense of investment now,” Todman told the AFRO.

“This type of work is a down payment on the kind of things we do, and that’s why the president’s Build Back Better Plan is right on point to make sure we can have more sites like this across the country. But I’m happy to be here this morning and I’m looking forward to what Baltimore does next.”

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