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Balt Sun: Jacques Kelly: Apartments at Center West Carry Promise for Poppleton

As construction workers climbed staircases outside the rising $81.5 million apartment complex at Schroeder and Lexington streets, a longtime resident of the Poppleton neighborhood observed: “We’ve been waiting 15 years for this to happen.”

The two apartment buildings, which are somewhat taller than the nearby rowhouses, are part of a 33-acre redevelopment effort known as Center West.

The 260 apartments face - and dwarf - the tiney Edgar Allan Poe house on Amity Street. Not far away is the University of Maryland BioPark, and the circular roof and pinnacle of the B&O Railroad Museum is easily spotted to the south on Poppleton Street.

William Jackson, a retired Baltimore police officer and Poppleton resident, looked around the site and said, "Where you see that building, we once had a popular grocery store, Doody's where everybody from the community shopped. We once had Sampson's restaurant on the corner of Fayette. It was known for its bread and rolls. There were once blocks of houses, all torn down.

"It was a 15-year promise," Jackson said of the new development. "We finally made it. It's going to help the tax base of this neighborhood."

Two New York firms, La Cite Development and BRP Development Corp., are developing Center West. The apartments - which include access to a dog walking park and a swimming pool - will rent at market rates. About 20 percent of the units are designated as affordable housing.

While Poppleton residents have long waited for something to appear at Schroeder and Lexington, their institutional neighbor, the downtown campus of the University of Maryland, has steadily built structure after structure along West Baltimore Street. Now, said Jackson, "I would assume the apartments will rent to the students at the University of Maryland."

Click here to read the rest of the story via the Baltimore Sun.