After two years of renovations, the apartments will meet, if not surpass, those goals. The 241 units in the 97-year old complex were initially constructed by famed DC developer Harry Wardman with architect Albert Beers and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. According to NHT, the laundry list upgraded amenities now available at the site include “new solar reflective roofs, new kitchens and bathrooms with energy star appliances and low-flow water fixtures, rain barrels to harvest water, an upgraded security system, American Disability Act accessible units and free high speed wireless internet access,” in addition to a slew of open community space and a new, energy efficient HVAC system.
The eco-friendly overhaul at the R Street Apartments is second its main raison d'etre: affordable housing in an ever more gentrified (read: increasingly expensive) Northwest neighborhood. Under the terms of the project’s restructured rate system, only 6 of the newly minted units will be renting at market-rate with varying “tiers” of affordability below that – starting for residents making 60% area median income (AMI) all the way down to 30% and below - compared to the 30% AMI cap that had been in place prior to the renovations and ownership change. Per the terms of the Five Voices of R Street Tenant Association’s agreement with the NHT and HDG, the apartments shall remain affordable for the next forty years.
Making sure they last that long, however, didn’t come cheap for the government. Together, the two development partners raised a total of $24.5 million for the purchase and renovation of the properties via Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits, federal Low Income Tax Credit equity, tax-exempt bonds, a Department of Housing and Community Development acquisition loan, a $50,000 Enterprise Green Communities Grant and a healthy smattering of “owner capital.” According to Michael Bodaken, President of the National Housing Trust, it was well worth the effort and expenditure.“By 2010 more than 10,000 affordable apartments could be lost in the city as owners contemplate exiting government programs and raising rents…[The R Street Apartments] could easily have been converted to condominiums or higher priced rentals, but by maintaining their affordability, we are safeguarding the well being of the families and seniors who call R Street home,” said Bodaken in a press release announcing the project’s grand re-opening.
A ceremony highlighting the development’s new lease on life is currently scheduled for April 17th at 11 AM. Mayor Adrian Fenty, DC Housing Authority Executive Director Michael Kelly, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and members of the R Street Tenant Association and development team are all expected to be in attendance. Remarks to the public will followed by a tour of the revamped apartments and a reception.