We are excited to begin the year with some good news for the future of Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum. With the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation taking the lead, we have made great strides towards the preservation and reuse of this important West Baltimore landmark.
Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development has granted the Coppin Heights CDC $100,000 to stabilize the building. Not only does stabilization address the building’s severely compromised roof but it also allows architects and engineers to work safely inside to assess conditions and complete redevelopment plans.
Coppin Heights CDC has now secured $10 million in state and federal funding with support from the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program, the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, and the New Markets Tax Credit program. This is great progress towards securing the resources necessary to restore the building and bring it back as an asset to the neighborhoods of Greater Rosemont.
Finally, just this afternoon, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced that West Baltimore, including the area around the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, one of five new Health Enterprise Zones across the state—a program that opens up new incentives for providing medical care to residents in under served neighborhoods like West Baltimore. The announcement comes as a welcome news, as the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is slated to be transformed into the Center for Health Care and Healthy Living to help address the same health disparities that the new Health Enterprise Zone is designed to reduce.
At Coppin State University, the building’s current owner, Dr. Mortimer Neufville is stepping in to serve as interim president after the resignation of Dr. Reginald Avery. Dr. Neufville takes the helm in a new day for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum as both CSU and the larger University of Maryland system have expressed their strong support for the project and are working together to make sure the building is restored and reused. Things are moving quickly for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and we are more than optimistic that 2013 will see great steps forward for its preservation and reuse as a center for revitalization in West Baltimore.
In February, we celebrated the announcement that Baltimore’s Hebrew Orphan Asylum received over $2.5 million in support from the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program. In order to secure the claim to these tax credits, the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation was required to pay a 3% fee – over $75,000 – which posed a tough challenge for a small non-profit. For the past several months, Dr. Gary Rodwell has worked with Baltimore Heritage and other partners to continue promoting interest in the project and identify partners who could provide the necessary funding. Thankfully, Coppin State University has stepped forward to pay the fee and secure the Hebrew Orphan Asylum’s claim to the state historic tax credits. With this support, the Coppin Heights CDC is in a strong position to continue planning and push forward with fundraising for the rehabilitation of the building.
The past few weeks have also marked the end of work by the Red Line Station Area Advisory Committees – groups of volunteer residents, business owners, and other stakeholder who collaborated with designers, planners, architects and land-use experts to bring their insight into the design and planning of the nineteen proposed Red Line stations. The Rosemont Station Area Advisory Committee produced a vision plan (find a PDF here) for the future of the Rosemont area that highlighted the importance of historic district designation for neighborhood revitalization, established the reuse of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum as a key goal and considered landmark designation for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and other historic properties.
Baltimore Heritage is helping make this vision a reality by starting to prepare a historic district nomination for the neighborhoods of Greater Rosemont and by working with the Coppin Heights CDC towards the restoration and reuse of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. As we continue to strive for the revitalization of historic West Baltimore neighborhoods, we welcome any questions or suggestions.
We are very pleased to share the news that the Baltimore Hebrew Orphan Asylum has received over $2.5 million in support from the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program. We are honored to have helped draft the tax credit application and to be one of the many partners working towards the building’s restoration. The state’s generous funding for the project is a major step forward in our efforts to see this building preserved and reused as an anchor for a revitalized Greater Rosemont community. We particularly appreciate the leadership of Coppin State University for their support of the tax credit application prepared by the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation with assistance from Baltimore Heritage and Kann Partners. Working together we’ve established a vision for the future of this building that matches the key goals of the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program: to promote revitalization, restore historic places, and advance Smart Growth and sustainability while creating jobs in communities across the state of Maryland.
Although the Hebrew Orphan Asylum is just one of of many projects receiving the tax credit across the State, this project received the largest allocation from the nearly $7 million in tax credits offered to projects across the state, including the Senator Theatre and Mount Vernon Mill No. 1 here in Baltimore. These funds will leverage additional public and private support as we work to help the Coppin Heights CDC raise the full amount required for a complete stabilization and rehabilitation of the building. With the building still in seriously distressed condition, these next steps are an urgent priority for Baltimore Heritage and the Friends of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.
The Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation recently completed a new Hebrew Orphan Asylum Adaptive Reuse Study with support from Baltimore Heritage, Preservation Maryland, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This report (available for download here) evaluates the restoration of this rare 19th century purpose-built orphanage and explores opportunities to return the building to use as a center for health care and healthy living. This study is a step forward in our ongoing effort to preserve the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.
In partnership with Coppin State University, the Coppin Heights CDC’s plan calls for creating a healthy foods market and a community health center in the building. Not only would this use provide an essential service to a West Baltimore community with limited access to fresh food and healthcare, it would also continue a rich tradition of social service at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum that began nearly 140 years ago.
Despite this good news, serious concerns remain as the distressed condition of the building–highlighted by the collapse this past February–urgently demands the immediate development of a financing plan to support the building’s stabilization and rehabilitation. Financing for projects similar to the Asylum often comes from a wide range of sources: tax credits, private commercial loans, and private donors just to name a few. To support this effort, Baltimore Heritage and the Coppin Heights CDC worked together to submit an application to the the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credit programs. If the application is successful, the state and federal tax credits could provide up to an estimated $4,000,000 for rehabilitation– a tremendous investment in the future of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the neighborhoods of Greater Rosemont.