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Melody Simmons’ real estate notebook

Drive down the narrow and winding Union Avenue in Hampden and you’ll see a hub of activity going on at the massive, historic Union Mill redevelopment near the train tracks.

The $20 million project is in full swing, as workers from Seawall Development Co.  convert the old stone mill on the banks of the Jones Falls into workforce apartments – with rental discounts up to $600 offered to teachers. The project last year received a $2.9 million state tax credit.

It is the first cited under the City Council’s Inclusionary Housing bill, renewed this week in a vote by the council. The bill was to sunset in 2012. It mandates that 20 percent of new housing stock be set aside for affordable units.

The mill was originally built in 1866 and will soon hold 56 one and two-bedroom apartments as well as office space for nonprofit groups. The project is expected to open within a year.

AHC Inc.embarks on $4.3M  renovation project

Andrew M. Vincent, director of Greater Baltimore AHC Inc. reports his group has embarked on a $4.3 million renovation of 72 units in the 1500 block of W. Fayette St.

The one, two and three-bedroom units are located in red brick rowhouses. They make up Union Rowe Apartments in the city’s Franklin Square community. The updates are being paid for in part with state bonds and tax credits and the project is expected to take 10 months to complete.

Renovations include new windows and doors, HVAC systems, new flooring, updated kitchens and bathrooms and a new coat of paint.

Greater Baltimore AHC is a nonprofit developer of low-income and affordable housing in the city. It is a subsidiary of Arlington, Va.-based AHC, Inc., a private, not-for-profit developer of affordable housing in the mid-Atlantic.

The local group purchased Union Rowe, formerly Franklin Square Apartments, this spring.

Jacqui Lampell receives Lifetime Achievement award

Kudos to Jacqui Lampell, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, who was given a Lifetime Achievement award this week for her work as chief spokeswoman from the professional group, PRSA Maryland.

Lampell has more than 35 years of experience in government and non-profit sectors. She once served as director of public events for former Gov. Parris Glendening and has also been communications chief for several state agencies.

In addition, MDHC received a top award for its “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait” campaign, created by local marketing whiz Gayle Economos  in 2008 for the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition’s foreclosure prevention efforts. Economos agreed to allow MDHC to use the slogan, too, for the State’s foreclosure prevention campaign – and the rest is history.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. moving to Harborplace

Nibbles: Hollywood’s famed philosophical quip in “Forrest Gump” — “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get,” has any extra meaning in Charm City this week. News that Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is moving its first Maryland location into the Harborplace corner now occupied by Phillips Seafood has been met by applause by some polled (very informally, definitely not scientific) … Watch those calories if you’re following the mayor’s race! Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake opened her campaign HQ with a fried chicken spread. This Saturday, Democratic challenger state Sen. Catherine Pugh is offering a fish fry at her HQ at 11 a.m. at 819 E. Baltimore St. … A 3,000-square foot Sushi Hana opened on June 6 in the Yorkridge Shopping Center in Lutherville. The deal was brokered by JBL Real Estate.