Historic Affordable D.C. Community Re-Opens in Logan Circle Neighborhood

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate Editor Washington, D.C.—This Friday, National Housing Trust-Enterprise Preservation Corp. (NHT-Enterprise) and The Hampstead Development Group will celebrate the grand re-opening of R Street Apartments, a 124-unit green, affordable housing community in Washington D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood.“To be able to preserve these apartments in that neighborhood is just huge,” Rob Richardson, senior project manager for NHT-Enterprise, tells MHN. “Most of the city’s affordable housing has been developed or preserved east of the river because that’s where land and buildings are the least expensive. The city recognized that it needs to preserve diversity in all neighborhoods.”Originally built in 1912 by Harry Wardman, R Street Apartments provided low-income housing for 40 years. When former owners put the community up for sale, residents purchased the five building community through the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), or “first right of purchase,” so that units could be rehabilitated and preserved as affordable housing for another 40 years.R Street Apartments, which is located between Logan Circle, Dupont Circle and the U Street Corridor, is situated in what Richardson describes as a “prime, ideal, gentrified neighborhood of the city.” He adds that one-third of all condos purchased in the city in the last year are located in this neighborhood.“A lot of new condos have been developed in this neighborhood. The threat was that these buildings would be converted to luxury condos, and all the residents would be displaced and they would not have had other options for staying in this neighborhood,” Richardson explains. Residents who lived in the community previously occupy a large majority of the units—99 of the 124. Units, which consist of efficiencies, one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, are reserved for those earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. In addition to the 124 affordable residences, the team added six market-rate units to the community.The buildings, which received a $50,000 Enterprise Green Communities grant, feature new solar reflective roofs, Energy Star appliances, low-flow water fixtures, an energy-efficient HVAC system and rain barrels to harvest water. Pervious pavers were also installed in new patio areas, allowing rain to seep back into the earth.In addition to the patios, amenities include a community room, gym and computer center, and all residents have access to free wireless high-speed Internet.The $24.5 million acquisition and renovation—$8 million of which was for the rehabilitation—were financed with Historic Rehabilitation tax credits, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and tax-exempt bonds, in addition to an acquisition loan from the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Green Communities grant and owner capital.Expected to join the project team at tomorrow’s re-opening are Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty; Councilmember Jack Evans; Cassandra Witt, president, Five Voices of R Street Tenant Association; Colleen Bonnick-Lewis, chief of staff, District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development; Anthony Waddell, director of public finance, District of Columbia Housing Finance Authority; and Michael Kelly, executive director, District of Columbia Housing Authority.