Historic Columbus School Re-Opens In South Clifton Park



For Release: Wednesday, July 23, 2014                                                                          

Contact: Vanessa C.  Pyatt

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Restoration yields 50 units of workforce housing; sets stage for more neighborhood revitalization


Baltimore, MD – State and City officials joined South Clifton Park community residents today to celebrate the much anticipated completion of the historic renovation of former Columbus School #99.  The 122 year-old landmark at 2000 E. North Avenue was restored to its former glory and transformed into 50 new, modern, workforce housing units for qualified city residents.  Spearheaded by The Woda Group, Inc., a national developer of affordable housing, the Historic Columbus School Apartments took 16 months to complete at an overall cost of $13 million. The apartments are open to Baltimore City families with incomes up to 60 % of the Baltimore City Median Income.


“By repurposing historical buildings like this, we are preserving a part of our city's distinctive history, while creating new opportunities for its future,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.  “I hope today’s grand opening will become indicative of what can lie ahead for the many historic and vacant properties across Baltimore.”


The Columbus School Apartments represent The Woda Group, Inc.’s, third and largest historic renovation nationally and the third development targeting the North Avenue corridor. “Columbus School was a beautiful historic structure that was once an anchor in this community” said Kevin Bell, senior vice president of The Woda Group, Inc.  “We simply made the investment to restore the building to its rightful place. Our hope is that this will make a real and lasting impact in stabilizing the neighborhood surrounding it.”  


Financing for The Columbus School Apartments is provided by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Hudson Housing Capital, Capital One and Bank of America. The project is supported by Edgewood Management Corporation and the Center for Urban Families which facilitated training and placement of 20 workers for the project. 


 “This building represents more than history and more than fine architecture. The Columbus School Apartment project is a tribute to the strong partnerships between state and local governments and between the public and private sectors that make the revitalization of our wonderful city possible,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond A. Skinner.


The Columbus School Apartments has 68,000 square feet of renovated space and offer one and two bedroom apartments with modern amenities, secure parking, a new entrance, multi-story lobby and elevator core, community room, computer lab, and education center. The building utilizes high efficiency mechanical systems throughout, with energy star lighting and appliances. The Columbus School Apartments meet Baltimore City Green Building Standards and will achieve Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) Silver designation.


In addition to The Columbus School Apartments, The Woda Group’s experience in Baltimore includes Penn Square Apartments at North and Pennsylvania Avenues completed in 2010, and North Avenue Gateway at North Avenue and Rosedale Street completed in 2013. Building on its mission to invest its resources in projects that will help build communities, The Woda Group is looking ahead to the upcoming expansion of Penn Square and North Avenue Gateway and breaking ground on the Mary Harvin Senior Apartments in collaboration with Southern Baptist Church. 


 “Bringing The Columbus School back was essential to the redevelopment underway on the North Avenue and Broadway corridors, ,” said Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano.  “This beautiful building will further stabilize this community as a magnificent cornerstone and attract new investment.”  


The development team for the Columbus School apartments includes the general contractor Woda Construction, Inc, the engineering firm of Gower Thompson and architects Cho Benn Holback +Associates. The building is co-owned by the Woda Group, Inc. and Housing Services Alliance, Inc. (HAS). HAS is a 501C(3) corporation specializing in developing and preserving housing and coordinating tenant services for very low and moderate income households, seniors and special needs populations.


Columbus School (#99) was a public elementary school originally constructed in 1891 and expanded from 14 to 33 classrooms between 1905 and 1912. The school closed in the 1970s and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The building represents the best of Romanesque Revival architecture in Baltimore. 




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