With the Logan Circle neighborhood gentrifying northward along 14th Street NW, and the concurrent redevelopment of the U Street corridor working its way downward, many wondered what fate was in store for the number of affordable housing buildings in this area. Once such development is the row of housing holding 124 units located along R Street just west of 14th Street. The answer is now clear, as the expected new purchasers of five of the seven buildings in the complex (1416, 1428, 1432, 1436 and 1440 R Street NW) are planning to implement more than $6 million worth of renovations once the sale is completed later this summer, and the units will be offered with more diverse income-level requirements than before.
Non-profit group NHT Enterprise and the Hampstead Development Corp. are believed to be paying current owner R Street Associates LP $11 million for the five buildings (1420 and 1424 R Street are not part of the deal, and are owned by another entity). The new owners have already requested funding from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development and the DC Housing Finance Agency toward the expected upgrades to the five 4-story buildings, which should begin this fall and continue for the following year. Residents will continue to live in the units during the work, which will include new kitchens and bathrooms, plus new roofs that incorporate "green" features.
The other major change will come with the income requirements for these units. Currently, the property owner receives federal subsidies to keep the units affordable, and the top threshold for these units is $28,350 for a family of four (30 percent and less of the area’s annual median income). Under the new ownership, residents will instead receive Section 8 vouchers which they can use to stay at these units, or to rent elsewhere. In addition, there will now be “tiers” of affordability, with 6 brand new carved-out units renting at market rate with no income restrictions; of the existing 124 units, 94 units will require a 60 percent and below annual median income, 24 units will require a 50 percent and below median, and 6 units will remain at 30 percent and below median.
The "Wardman Row" buildings have experienced a long and lively history. First built by Harry Wardman and architect Albert Beers in 1913-1914 in the Classical Revival style as affordable apartments, the buildings watched as the neighborhood fell on hard times after the riots of the late 1960s left 14th Street scarred. The buildings underwent renovations in the 1970s and 1980s, and were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. They have since watched new shops and restaurants open on either side since the 1990s.