Monday, November 12, 2007

Mayfair Mansions Dig Starts Thursday

This Thursday, the Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), in partnership with Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MHCDO) and the Mayfair Mansions 2005 Tenant Association (MMTA) will host the official groundbreaking ceremony for the historic Mayfair Mansions affordable housing community, at 3819 Jay Street, NE. The existing residences will receive both a tangible makeover, involving a bombardment of upgrades and the creation of a brand new 10,000 s.f. community center (pictured compliments of Wiencek + Associates), as well as less tangible improvements including the preservation of long-term affordable rental housing and the creation of affordable homeownership for tenants.

The trinity of acronymic organizations will provide 410 affordable rental units and 160 affordable homeownership opportunities - okay, condos - in the Parkside neighborhood. The roots for these preservation and affordable housing objectives were planted back in 2005 when the Mayfair Mansions Tenants Association exercised their TOPA rights, which allows tenants of a rental unit first right of refusal to purchase before a landlord can legally sell his property. MMTA subsequently sought assistance, partnering with the two local development groups, which acquired the site in July 2006; CPDC to lead the rental preservation initiative and MHCDO to head the creation of affordable homeownership.

Under the partnership, CPDC and MHCDO have been investing in the 23-acre site for the past two years and now plan to bring the community's vision to fulfillment. The DC Department of Housing and Community Development has provided $27.5 million in long-term subsidies for both rental and ownership elements; a bundle of Low Income Housing Tax Credits was also provided in light of Mayfair's continued status as a low-income housing supplier - about 95% of the rental housing is restricted for applicants at or below 60% AMI.

The most interesting source of proceeds comes from the Federal government in the form of a Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which is being provided due to Mayfair's historic status; the Mayfair Mansions were originally constructed in the 1940s specifically for the African-American community in a time when racially restrictive covenants had a stronghold on housing laws. Albert Cassell, a renowned African American architect who designed numerous milestone structures for the Howard University campus, served as the lead designer for the erstwhile Mayfair community. In 1990, Mayfair was put on the historic register due to its social significance.

Although minor construction efforts have been in effect since October 10th, the official groundbreaking on Thursday will commemorate the rebirth of the Mayfair community and its dedication to serve all income levels. Amidst the celebratory proceedings, Mayor Fenty will be on the business end of a shovel, at least long enough for a photo op, along with City Council Chairman Vincent Gray and a handful of other local politicos.

Design and construction for the 570-unit housing community will be a joint-venture of architectural and construction firms. Wiencek + Associates and McDonald Williams Banks Architects will serve as the design team while Gilford Corp. and Hamel Builders Inc. will share construction and renovation responsibilities for the array of housing units. Project completion is expected in the first quarter of 2010.


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