KeyBank’s Community Development Lending and Investment (CDLI) efforts include financing an apartment project in Baltimore’s Poppleton neighborhood that will help revitalize the area.

For more than a decade, residents of Baltimore’s historic Poppleton area wondered what would become of their neighborhood . Over the years retailers moved elsewhere and lots were abandoned, yet residents still hoped for better days.

Those better days appear to be on the rise – literally – as a multi-million-dollar apartment building begins to go up in the neighborhood, with the promise of affordable housing and further development.

The large-scale redevelopment project was financed in part through $56.1 million in FHA-insured 221(d)4 funds provided by KeyBank . The funds will be used for the first phase of the project, consisting of a six-story complex with 262 units, dubbed the Center\West Apartments. The project will also include 19,000 square feet of ground floor retail, neighborhood services, a dog park and a plaza. The true boon to the neighborhood is that 20% of the 262 units are designated as affordable housing, for those making at or below 50% of the area’s median income.

Neighborhood History

The Poppleton neighborhood where the project is located is significant in many ways. First, the development is situated in front of the historic Poe House, the former home of writer Edgar Allan Poe, which also is one of the first homes built in the neighborhood. Yet, the historical significance of the area did not isolate it from falling into disrepair: over the last 15 years, the area has been filled with vacant lots (totaling 33 acres), left after homes and shops were torn down for development that never came. The area remained barren even as the University of Maryland rapidly built nearby on West Baltimore Street.

Assessing and Meeting Needs

La Cité Development, LLC, in conjunction with BRP Development Corp, saw the needs of the neighborhood and worked with the City of Baltimore to develop a project that would meet the area’s immediate needs, while having an eye toward future expansion and revitalization. All told, the project, when completed, will cost $460 million, with the Center\West Apartments as the first phase.

Area residents are encouraged by the project and what it offers the neighborhood. William Jackson, a retired Baltimore police officer who lives in Poppleton, related to The Baltimore Sun the following about the development: “It was a 15-year promise… We finally made it. It’s going to help the tax base of this neighborhood.”

KeyBank Gets It Done

The financing from KeyBank, which got this project off the ground, was the fastest firm commitment to finance new construction in the history of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Said Dan Bythewood, Co-founder and President of La Cité Development, “At La Cité, we are motivated by opportunities to improve neighborhoods. Key’s ability to provide fast financing solutions helped us work with the City of Baltimore and move forward with the first phase of construction of Center\West.”