"Just a few short years ago, fire marshals had to stand on each floor to assure the safety of the residents. It was dangerous to walk in the halls or ride the elevators…This building has been made safe again for the residents who live here…But this time with a twist,” said Somerset principal Nancy Hooff. “It has affordable rents [and] it’s near public transportation and shopping. Smart growth, indeed.”
According to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, residents of Hubbard Place can look forward to updated amenities that include “new elevators, the creation of new community spaces and a computer lab, secure access, new kitchens and baths, windows, roof and all new common areas.” The city block-straddling development also includes a new home for the Latin American Youth Center, which provides educational and vocational services to area youth, as well as two new businesses: the Black Lion Deli and George’s Shoe Repair. In the view of Eleanor Holmes Norton, the dramatic shift in Hubbard Place's fortunes can be attributed directly to tireless efforts of the building’s residents.
“There is no way in which the city and the federal government could have done a thing with Hubbard [Place], if there had not been a determined band of residents who said, ‘We’re not going to let this place go’…I’m just pleased to see something that I can point to that [the US Department of Housing and Urban Development] has done these days,” said the congresswoman, not quite jokingly.
The local government, however, did play a prominent role in gathering the formidable sum required for the large-scale renovation procedures, as overseen by the architects of Kann Partners and the project’s general contractor, Hamel Builders. Out of the development’s $52 million budget, the Department of Housing and Community Development provided $8.5 million for the acquisition of the property, with the District of Columbia Housing Authority pitching in an additional $4.6 million for historic preservation. The building upgrades were funded primarily through $26 million in tax exempt bonds issued by the District of the Columbia Housing Finance Agency. It’s a role that District officials, like Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, were eager to hang their hat on.
“We have enough condos,” said Graham. “We can build condos where there once vacant lots surrounded by hurricane fences. But we are going to keep our diversity and we’re going to keep our low-income housing. We’re going to build new low-income housing…We’re going to do all this because we care.”
Hubbard Place is the second such affordable housing renovation opened by the city in as many weeks. Last week, Mayor Fenty presided over the grand re-opening of Jubilee Housing, Inc.’s Ontario Court project at 2525 Ontario Road, NW, in nearby Adams Morgan. New condos are being built in Washington DC.