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BALTIMORE, MD-The long-planned multimillion-dollar revitalization of the city’s 24-block Harlem Park community gets underway with the ground breaking for the $8.6 million senior apartment complex, Harlem Gardens. Harlem Gardens is the first phase in a multi-faceted project that is being developed by the nonprofit Harlem Park Revitalization Corp. and Bank of America, which will provide the majority of the funding. The bank pledged $100 million to the revitalization project three years ago while working with HPRC on a five-year plan to revive the area.

Located on Edmondson Avenue, the affordable senior housing project will offer 94 units, as well as a pharmacy, physician’s office, and café. Tenancy will be restricted to citizens 62-years of age and older who earn anywhere from 40% to 60% of the area’s median income. In addition to the bank’s contributions, Maryland Elderly Rental Housing Program Funds offered up a $1.1 million loan for the apartment’s construction. “It makes sense to invest in affordable housing in this neighborhood,” Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley notes in a statement made at the construction site. “We need to invest our limited resources where they can make the most difference–around our schools and our parks, big and small–homeownership neighborhoods, neighborhood commercial corridors, and churches, as well as in the places where there is the most need.”

Harlem Gardens not only marks the debut of the massive revitalization project, it also carries the distinction of being the first structure to go up in the neighborhood in more than a quarter century. The revitalization’s second phase is a $23 million endeavor expected to begin in 2003. It entails the demolition of 360 abandoned homes in a six-block radius within the community, and the subsequent development of 160 townhomes and semi-detached dwellings on the cleared-out parcels.

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