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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University July 19, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 40
Mt. Vernon: 96 Apts, Peabody View

Emily Frank, associate dean for student affairs at Peabody, at the Stafford Apartments. The building will house students from Peabody and other JHU campuses.

JHU acquires landmark building for much-needed student housing

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

A century-old architectural gem in Mount Vernon will soon become housing for those studying at Johns Hopkins.

In an effort to provide affordable housing alternatives for Peabody students, Johns Hopkins Real Estate recently negotiated the acquisition of the Stafford Apartments, an 11-story building that will be open for occupancy by the middle of August.

Under terms of the agreement, AIMCO, the seller of the property and one of the largest owner/operators of apartment communities in the United States, will lease and manage the Stafford for the university.

The building, located at 716 N. Washington Place and one block from the Peabody campus, features 96 one- and two-bedroom apartments and can house approximately 140 students.

Peabody students will get the first opportunity to lease apartments at the Stafford, and then any apartments still available will be open to Johns Hopkins students at the East Baltimore and Homewood campuses. A Johns Hopkins shuttle stops at Peabody and connects with both the medical campus and Homewood.

Emily Frank, associate dean for student affairs at the Peabody Institute, said that it has become increasingly difficult for the school's students to find nearby housing, as property values in the neighborhood continue to increase. Frank said that recent enhancements to the physical environment in and around Peabody, such as cleaner streets and capital improvements made to neighboring cultural institutions, have made the area more desirable, and students are being slowly priced out of the market.

Peabody freshmen and sophomores, who make up more than a quarter of the student population, are required to live in the on-campus residence hall. The remaining 450-plus upperclassmen and graduate students, however, do not have guaranteed housing.

Looking across Mt. Vernon Square, the tenants of this apartment will have a clear view of Peabody's Mt Vernon Place buildings, right. At left is the historic Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Church, a High Victorian Gothic structure designed in 1872.

Robert Sirota, Peabody director, said that the Stafford will provide a viable alternative for those looking for an affordable place to live that doesn't require transportation.

"With the tremendous vitality of the real estate market in Mount Vernon, we recognized the need for apartment housing at reasonable rental rates for older undergraduates and graduate students," he said. "The Stafford is ideally located and offers truly attractive apartments, many with spectacular views, to Peabody students."

The Stafford Apartments had most recently served as government-subsidized, affordable housing. Johns Hopkins' acquisition of the property was made possible by federal legislation, passed by Congress in August 2002, which authorized the conversion of government-subsidized housing to student housing. All previous tenants have been relocated, and the building has been empty since June 24.

Formerly known as the Stafford Hotel, the building was constructed in 1894, designed in the Romanesque, Richardsonian style. Its exterior features a brown Roman brick facade, arched windows and balustrade balconies.

When it opened, the Stafford was the tallest building in Mount Vernon and was considered the grandest hotel in Baltimore. It was the preferred lodging for famous and wealthy visitors to the city, among whom was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who stayed at the hotel during a period between 1935 and 1936 while his wife, Zelda, was being treated at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The Stafford closed as a hotel in 1970 and was converted to 96 apartments for low-income residents.

Currently, the building is undergoing cosmetic improvements, which include new carpeting, paint, light fixtures and blinds.

David McDonough, senior director of development oversight for Johns Hopkins Real Estate and the lead negotiator for the Stafford deal, said that the building will undergo more extensive renovations beginning at the end of the spring semester, at which time the building will temporarily close. Scheduled improvements include the installation of new fire sprinklers and upgrades to elevators and electrical systems.

Students will move into the Stafford Apartments sometime in mid-August, McDonough said.

One-bedroom apartments will rent for $669-$899, two bedrooms for $889-$1,099. All apartments, which are unfurnished, include central heat and air conditioning with individual temperature control. Fully equipped kitchens, some with eat-in dining areas, have frost-free refrigerators, garbage disposals and self-cleaning ovens.

Models are currently available for viewing. To make an appointment, contact Sabrina Carrington at 410-837-4161, or e-mail her at Students may apply online, as well as view photos and find additional information, at AIMCO's Web site,


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