by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor
A $21 million makeover has transformed a series of dilapidated buildings in Providence’s West End into 83 units of energy-efficient affordable housing. A year of construction was capped off March 11 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and other federal, state and local officials.
To create the new rental properties, collectively named Phoenix Apartments, a joint venture of Omni Development Corp. and WinnDevelopment rehabilitated or rebuilt 22 abandoned and foreclosed multi-family buildings on Althea, Waverly, Bellevue, Hanover, Cranston and Waldo streets. The developers demolished seven buildings and replaced them with nine new buildings and three parking sites.
Another 17 buildings were gutted and rehabilitated; seven of those properties were rebuilt either with fewer units or fewer bedrooms in order to reduce density. Also included is 3,148 square feet of space for property management offices, a central laundry facility and a community meeting room.
A variety of public and private sources provided funding, including Rhode Island Housing, HOME, LeadSafe Homes Program, Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the 2006 voter-supported housing bond, Building Homes Rhode Island, Bank of American Merrill Lynch and Housing Credits
“Preserving 83 units of affordable housing meets a critical need in our capital city,” said Joseph Caffey, president of Omni Development Corp., and managing partner of Phoenix Apartments, L.P. “We trust that our Phoenix residents will benefit for many years from these new HUD Section 8 apartments.”
Rhode Island Housing acquired the properties from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2010 and selected the Omni/WinnDevelopment team to redevelop them. As a condition of the plan’s approval by HUD, the developers maintained 83 apartments with the identical bedroom count identified in the Section 8 contract. The Section 8 rental assistance program allows each household to pay 30 percent of its income for rent
“These new affordable rental homes are a perfect example of turning a liability into an asset,” Governor Chafee said. “These formerly abandoned and foreclosed buildings – which previously were a risk to the community in terms of fire or vandalism – will now provide safe and affordable housing to Rhode Islanders in need.”
Photo: Rhode Island Housing