Thursday, November 29, 2012

Major Renovations Scheduled for Crime-Addled NoMa Neighbor

NoMa may be rapidly becoming a gleaming playground for the city’s young professionals, but some of its lower-income neighbors are about to get an upgrade, too. Tyler House, a 284-unit subsidized apartment building located at the southwest intersection of New York Avenue and North Capitol Street, will soon be undergoing a $25 million top-to-bottom renovation.

“You know the term God’s rehab?” asked owner Israel Roizman, a Philadelphia resident who runs Roizman and Companies, a management and development firm that owns mostly low-income properties on the East Coast. “We’ll be taking everything out from the inside and putting everything in brand new.”

The comprehensive upgrade will include a new building-wide HVAC system, new plumbing, improved elevators, and new kitchens—cabinets, appliances—for residents. To boot, the community center spaces will be improved and the building will include a new computer learning center.

But possibly the most important element, at this point, might be the change in lobby structure. Currently, the building has three towers but only one entrance. To improve security, Roizman will build three separate entrances, one for each tower—and each with its own security desk. “We’re trying to organize better the traffic of the building,” said Roizman. “That creates better overseeing, management, security—you won’t have kids running around all over.”

In this case, the security issue is a crucial one: last month, that corner was the site of an astounding seven shootings that occurred within seven days. “It’s the surrounding area,” claimed Roizman, who’s owned the complex for 17 years. “It didn’t happen in our building.”

Renovation plans have been drawn up by Architectural Alliance, which has offices in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and will be carried out by The Bozzuto Group. Construction should begin in February and will take about 18 months; most of the building’s almost 1,000 residents will remain the building throughout.

As for the complex’s proximity to one of the District’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods, Roizman says he isn’t planning on selling—or upgrading the building to luxury status—anytime soon. “I’ll keep it low-income,” he said. “Why shouldn’t people with less income live in a nice area?”

Washington D.C. real estate development


Kevin said...

The building still has "projects" look to it (yes I know it's just a reno). Looking at the architecture of high crime areas around DC and other cities they all seem to have that same look.

Travesti on Nov 30, 2012, 5:56:00 AM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BEM said...

Tyler House is a classic failed housing project, concentrating too much poverty in one area. The result of these "tower projects", more often than not, is a reinforced cycle of poverty, reinforced by broken family structures, lack of opportunity, and lack of education. This scenario is an ideal situation for drug dealers, whose main customers are the poor who all too often turn to a drug culture either to use or sell, depending on whether the individual is attempting to escape their reality or take a hold of it in the only way they know how to.

$25M sounds like a lot of money for a renovation, but be certain for the size of the building it is not and this is the lowest amount of money that Roizman could spend to convince HUD to renew its Section 8 status (which lapsed last year). When you do the math Roizman will receive about $5M a year from HUD in TRACS (automatic payments by the government upon evidence of a vouchered individual occupying the units). With the HUD renewed for 20 years, this means the Roizman will pay $25M now in renovations to receive $100M over 20 years from the US Taxpayers to continue a failed house project. Renovations may provide some better basic needs for the tenants, but a similar renovation was done 17 years ago when Roizman first bought the building, and look where we have ended up now.

If the US Government and HUD are going to continue subsidizing housing for low income individuals, then programs that give incentive for apartment buildings to mix market rate and subsidized units (as is being done across the street with WCS building) as a better way to break the concentration of poverty, which accelerates the issues of drug use and violence.

Roizman claims that the shootings did not happen inside his building and it was the surrounding area. As someone who lives in the surrounding area, I can tell you that Tyler House (along with its neighbor Sursum Corda) is the epicenter for violence and crime in the area. Without the concentration of drug users (many of whom live in Tyler House), the "Corners" of NYE and North Cap would not be the DMZ. And Roizman need only look at the number of murders, rapes, robberies, assaults and other violent crimes that have occurred both outside AND inside his complex to realize that is not the surrounding area that Tyler House need be concerned of, but rather, the surrounding area need be concerned of Tyler House.

This is not to say that all residents or even that most residents of Tyler House (and similar concentrated housing projects) are drug dealers/ users or criminals. In fact, it are these very people who suffer the most from this continued program because if they had any other options, they would likely not live in Tyler House. If we as individuals/ a city/ country/ society owe a duty, either out of our own selfish interest or for the good of others in need, continuation of concentrated projects like these, with out of touch out of city slum lords that merely leech off government incentives at the detriment of low-income individuals, then our goal should be to decentralize government sponsored poverty and not make grand bargains for "God Rehabs" that really equates to maintaining a subpar status quo and entrenched poverty and crime while making someone who has no vested interest in the better of those people or the city, rich.

Critically Urban on Nov 30, 2012, 12:05:00 PM said...

It just looks like any other mid-20th century apartment complex.

nearby said...

BEM, What stats are you looking at?
please share.

Kevin said...

Thank you BEM that was well stated, that was essentially what was on my mind.

Anonymous said...

Amanda, surely Tyler House is in need of 'something'. A good article but you don't really say where this $25M is coming from. Is the owner posting $25M into new equity or is he selling a piece of the deal to new investors? Is HUD / DCHFA providing a rehab loan?

Thank you for any insights you might have.

Justin on Feb 19, 2013, 2:53:00 PM said...

BEM said it right.

Critically Urban has apparently never been outside of a slum before. There's no other explanation for how he could consider spiked security fences and steel turnstile perimeter doors "standard" features of mid-20th century apartment architecture. Maybe there was a typo, and he meant "mid-20th century PRISON architecture?"

Anonymous said...

"Why shouldn't low-income people live in a nice area?" Because, low-income people tend to bring relatively more riff raff with them. In turn, the area ends up being not so nice. Not to mention, these low-income people will end up moving out anyway, when they can't eat at a neighboring restaurant for less that $50

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