Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Logan Circle Wardmans Revamped for Affordable Housing

With $8 million worth of renovations now largely complete, the R Street Apartments have gone a long way in proving that green building practices and affordable housing are not mutually exclusive. Purchased by tenants in 2007 through the Tenant Opportunity Act, the new owners’ first order of business was to form a partnership with the National Housing Trust-Enterprise Preservation Corporation (NHT) and the Hampstead Development Group (HDG) - one that would ensure the restoration, revitalization and environmentally sound character of their five historic buildings at 1416, 1428, 1432, 1436, 1440 R Street, NW in the District's Logan Circle neighborhood.

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.


Brad said...

Every time I drive by I wonder why: 1) so many low-income units are lumped together to create that 'bad neighborhood' feel, 2) how much of our money the govt is spending to keep the occupants in these homes (now we know), 3) why these people can afford to hang around the front porches all day (cuz they are subsidized, of course) and 4) whether this massed low-income project will be a perpetual strain on the neighborhood, or whether we need to relearn the fundamentals of packing so many low-income people into one small space.

Anonymous said...

JASMINE says its not society fault that some people can't raise up above poverty.If they want to hang out in front of their apartment building all day and do nothing that's their business. However if the government don't enforce stricter rules among them,then they will continue to do nothing. But its not everyone. Some people do know how to better themselves.So the government need not to punish everyone for others own doings.One issue that I can't get over is why do most people in society[people who never needed assistance] frown upon and bad mouth those who need it.It only have that "bad feeling" because you probably never experienced a situation similar to what there in. If you have a lot of people bunched up into one section of course that's what people are going to think but u can't split it up neither cause that will just create more problems through out the city. So my point is is that if the government was to create strict rule and enforce them, I guarentee the people will listen. They have to much to lose if they choice otherwise.

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