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The Capital: Bozzuto Completes Sale of West Street Townhomes

October 16, 2012

All 23 townhomes and a duplex scheduled to be part of the new Uptown at Murray Hill housing development on West Street have been pre-sold, according to developer Bozzuto Group.

Bozzuto spokeswoman Cathy Leaning said the presell “has everything to do with the quality of our houses and the location of our houses.” Leaning said construction of the development, which started earlier this year, is scheduled to conclude in the summer of 2013.

Uptown at Murray Hill, which will contain five single-family homes in addition to the townhomes and duplex, is being constructed at 213 West St., between Church Circle and Westgate Circle, an area that has seen many changes and improvements in recent years.

Currently, all that is visible of the proposed development is broken ground behind a chain-link fence displaying posters of what is to come. Floor designs and information on the housing options are available across the street at the small Bozzuto sales office.

Leaning said Bozzuto expected the townhomes and duplex would sell quickly, but not quite as fast as they did. She credited the location as a major factor in the sale. Bozzuto began construction on the townhomes in July. They went on the market in April for $400,000.

“We knew it was a great location,” she said.

During the zoning process, the Uptown development was opposed by some community groups, including Sean O’Neill, president of the Annapolis Business Association. O’Neill advocated a zoning plan that included first-floor retail, with housing options above street-level shops.

“I still think from an urban planning standpoint the design is flawed,” O’Neill said. “Only having homes there ruins the rhythm (of the area).”

But O’Neill and others were able to get zoning provisions that allow for compromise.

“If someone wants to convert a townhome into a cafe they can do that,” he said.

The quick presell of the townhomes and duplex could be a result of the transformation of certain portions of West Street. While some residents said the area surrounding the new development deteriorating in recent years, the addition of new restaurants and the Park Place residential and commercial development on the corner of West Street and Taylor Avenue has brought a much-needed facelift.

The presell could also be indicative of a changing housing market, said Jeff Ross, an Annapolis realtor.

“There is definitely a market change,” Ross said. “It’s driven by demand and demand is up right now.”

The new housing development also has the potential to affect local businesses and restaurants.

Claudia Hassan, part-owner of Cafe Ole’, a small coffee shop on West Street, says she thinks Uptown at Murray Hill could give a boost to that area of town.

“The good thing is they are revitalizing the area that was just empty...and bringing more life,” she said.

Hassan said she isn’t sure about the economic effect Uptown will have on local businesses, but said one aspect that will definitely be impacted is traffic.

“I’m sure one thing that will be worse is traffic,” she said. “Can you imagine, a hundred people will be at least 20, 30, 40 more cars.”

Leaning said Bozzuto is optimistic about the prospect of selling the five remaining single-family homes which start at $700,000.

“We’ve already had a great deal of interest in them,” she said.