Salisbury Redevelopment Project Seeks Fee Waiver

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council is advancing a waiver for capacity fees for an apartment re-development project located on Booth Street.

The project will expand and improve the public housing community already in place and looks to provide quality affordable housing in the area with the intent of annexing the property into Salisbury down the road.

The apartments located between 901 and 922 Booth Street represent an opportunity for public and private organizations to work together on enriching public housing around Salisbury, according to Pennrose Properties, LLC representative Ivy Carter.

“So, currently there are 100 units on the site, 100 public housing units. We are intending to divide the site in half, re-develop 50 of the existing public housing units into 84 affordable units,” she told the council. “The [Wicomico County] Housing Authority (WCHA) will continue to be part-owner of the re-development project so they will continue to own the land. They will also be a part of the new ownership structure.”

The re-development that Carter spoke of would just be the first phase of the project. Demolishing, re-building and altering units will require a significant effort and Pennrose asked the council to consider waiving the Capacity Fee that would be associated with adding new, necessary EDUs.

“If the city considered only the net 34 additional units that will be constructed, since 50 units are currently existing and 84 total new units will be constructed, then we estimate the Capacity Fee at $120,122,” wrote Patrick Stewart, another Pennrose representative in a letter to the council.

With the EDUs and new construction, Pennrose looks to create public housing that will serve all of the residents currently in the apartments while attracting new tenants, particularly families. The re-development will come with a mix of new rooms for a total of 22 one-bedroom units, 46 two-bedroom units and 16 three-bedroom units. An emphasis will be put on the rooms being affordable for households earning 60-percent or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) and affordability restrictions will be in place on the re-development for 30 years. Out of the 84 units, 34 will be targeted towards those earning only a portion of the AMI.

This will be something of a “re-invention” of the Booth Street Apartments, according to Suzanne Brown, a representative from WCHA.

“What we’re trying to do is create sort of a mixed-income community where we are still serving the families that are currently on site but attracting higher income families onto the site as well,” agreed Carter.

The mutli-unit composition of the re-development leaves a lot of flexibility and Councilman Tim Spies expects the single-unit rooms to be attractive for seniors. He asked Carter to make sure that the public housing is truly operating like a community so that seniors, and others, aren’t just “bunking down in their rooms.”

Efforts will be made to bring services into the community for everyone, Carter replied.

The re-development process will be an extensive one. Following Phase I Pennrose will move on to Phase II. Carter called that a “mirror” of the first phase but for the other half of the apartments. The organization will also seek to annex the property into Salisbury City limits as the project advances.

“We would expect it to happen well before we start activities for the second phase of the re-development project so I would say sometime early next year we’ll try to get it started,” Carter said of annexation.

The council took a favorable view of the project and agreed to move the issue forward to a legislative session and the Public Works Department has been asked to craft a resolution that would waive the capacity fees.