Friday, October 05, 2007

St. Martin's Housing Project to Break Ground in February


After an onerous battle between residents of Eckington and the parish of St. Martins Church, plans are being finalized for groundbreaking on the new 178-unit workforce housing development on 116 T Street, NE, projected for completion in the first quarter of 2010. The apartment complex, totaling 241,000 s.f., is being designed as a Class A apartment building. It will hold 50 junior one bedroom units reserved as public housing for residents earning 30% of the Area Median Income with the remaining 128 units being comprised mostly of two bedroom apartments, available to residents who earn 60% of the Area Median Income. The project should break ground in February of 2008.

Upon completion, the project will serve as “the largest affordable housing project in DC,” said Reverend Michael Kelley, the pastor and leader of the project. “The bad news is that no one else is doing this type of thing,” he added. The reason for a lack of affordable housing developments in the District might be due to the clamor that these types of undertakings tend to cause within the community. St. Martins serves as the perfect example: when some of the neighboring residents discovered what was being constructed on the corner of Summit and T streets, a massive amount of lawyering commenced; they found a way to get an old convent, which would have been destroyed to build the apartment complex, classified a “Historic Building” with the Historical Preservation Society, effectively halting the development process. According to Reverend Kelley, some of the neighbors had a problem with “greed, race and class.”

Most of those community problems have been assuaged thanks to some tricky engineering and cunning design strategies by project architect Grimm & Parker and development manager NorthStar Consultants, who found a way to include the now historic convent (pictured) into the project by moving the massive structure 80 feet eastward. The move will be so astounding that U.K. based documentary program Mega Movers contacted Reverend Kelley to film the convent’s relocation. If the development schedule for the project can coalesce with Mega Movers’ production schedule, St. Martins could appear on the History Channel’s new season of the hit show.

The $41 million project will take the convent, which once served as a housing complex for nuns who taught at the St. Martin’s grade school, and merge it into the design of the apartment building. In 1990, the age-old convent was leased to DC-based Catholic Charities for use as a recovery location for drug-addicted mothers. Then in 2001, Catholic Charities began using the space as subsidized housing for recovering homeless men who needed supportive services and were unable to afford rent at market price. Now, Catholic Charities and St. Martin’s parish have decided that the building, which appears increasingly dilapidated with each passing day, the parking lot and the rest of the property would bode well as affordable housing for struggling adults. According to Reverend Kelley, it fits with the church’s mission – public outreach and social stewardship. Reverend Kelley added, “This speaks volumes about how the Catholic Church is putting Gospel beliefs into practice, or how we say here, taking our faith to the street.”

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reverend Kelly has proven himself more of a bigot than those he accuses of bigotry. Interesting how that works, huh?

IMGoph on Oct 7, 2007, 10:33:00 AM said...

the apartments will be in eckington, not bloomingdale. bloomingdale is on the other side of north capitol. the battle was with the eckington neighborhood, not bloomingdale.

Ken on Oct 7, 2007, 2:33:00 PM said...

Imgoph;

Yes, you are right, I thought that was changed earlier. Fuzzy lines, those, but I would call this Eckington. I changed it in the story.

PalacePool on Oct 8, 2007, 9:10:00 PM said...

I find it interesting that the "greedy" are the homeowners, and not CCS who is getting a ton of funding from Fannie Mae and GE, who in-turn get a nice tax break.

That said, the battle has been lost, and soon we will all have 400 more neighbors....

Rynecki on Oct 9, 2007, 12:40:00 PM said...

Father Kelly is good at characterizing those who disagree with his beliefs as greedy bigots. This negative positioning helped create the defensive reaction from taxpaying home owners in Eckington (of which I am one).

I pray that Father Kelly will not allow his noble but misguided development goals lead to the failures of Cabrini Green and Sursum Corda. When poverty is concentrated to such a degree it statistically leads to despair. What makes his project different? Why subject our already impoverished neighborhood to more of the same?

Inquiring minds want to know. Glad the convent will be spared and hope its debut on TV shines a positive light on Eckington.

Anonymous said...

Pls, Pls, Pls. If I am right there will be market rate apartments available. Also, I would like to add that I had enough about the continued denials being spewed about bigotry and race not being a factor against the Saint Martin’s project. Thank God the planning commission saw that the truth that affordable apartments are needed in DC. Lastly, Steve "impoverished" hardly...homes are still selling for no less then $400,000. Now the neighborhood is no G'Town but impoverished it is not. Maybe transitional would have been a better word.

Anonymous said...

There is a HUGE Black cloud hanging over Eckington as a result of this project. I am so disappointed that a man of God, Father Kelly, continues to spew hatred. The fact is that neighbors TRIED to work with Father Kelley and the Catholic Church and they did a DAMN good job of all kinds of underhanded and deceiptful practices. Father Kelly, Catholic Charities and this whole project just turns my stomach! Ugh! Despicable.
And to answer someone else question.. no there are no market rate homes. The neighbors actually wanted a MIXED development and they would not have it!

Anonymous said...

What I'd like to know is how many of the church members actually live in Eckington? I'm sick of misguided Catholic charity that lumps the less fortunate together in areas far away from their own homes and neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering why Catholic Charities or any of these organizations never try to do this in a neighborhood like Georgetown?

Anonymous said...

It's up to Catholic Community Services to prove everyone wrong about the kinds of tenants they'll attract. Not like anyone has a real choice in the matter.

Anonymous said...

LOL....."Just wondering why Catholic Charities or any of these organizations never try to do this in a neighborhood like Georgetown?"

I have heard that till I want to puke. If you knew DC history you wouldn't be saying that Georgetown was a clap board slum at the turn of the century that people wanted to get out of.Communities like Cleveland Park were created just for that reason. Some day people will say " they wouldn't try pulling that in Eckington. No one has the moral high ground in the fight to either build the St. M's project or the battle to prevent it. Both sides acted in an uncivil manner. We all need to work together to make sure this project doesn't fail because its coming and we will have to live with it. "I told you so" just won't cut it no matter which side you were on.

Mike on Oct 24, 2007, 12:13:00 PM said...

well with most churches here in DC most of the people who go to that church do not live around the church they live in MD/VA or different part of town so they do not care. On sunday or whatever day is their service on go by the church and look at all the tags of cars 60% or more are not DC.

Anonymous said...

Since the groundbreaking is supposed to happen sometime this month, I thought it appropriate to post a couple of things about this project, "for the record." First, as one of the many people in opposition to this project, I tried to be reasonable with Fr Kelley et al in terms of mixing market rate apartments with affordable ones. They wouldn't hear of it, and were utterly intractable on the subject. Second, I was never uncivil during the process. Although I disagreed with many of their so-called facts and tired of their blatant mendacity, I don't think calling someone's bluff is being uncivil. Third, and last, those who say this project will not affect the high prices that homes in Eckington are fetching would do well to see that several luxury condo buildings are selling so poorly that the owners have decided to put them up for auction. I have every confidence that naysayers such as myself will ultimately be vindicated. - Stephen White

 

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