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Quality Renovations of Older Adams Morgan Apartment Buildings by ubilee Housing Aiding in Maintaining Area’s Diversity

By Anthony L. Harvey

Accompanying images can be viewed in the current issue PDF

Jubilee Housing celebrated the 2011-‘12 holiday season with high notes of program accomplishments. These included the completion of residential leasing for the final phase of its two-year, Adams Morgan apartment building historic preservation and renovation program of the Euclid and Sorrento apartments.

Also of note was the December 2011 purchase of an eighth Jubilee Housing building, this one the Maycroft in Columbia Heights at 1474 Columbia Road, NW, and the announcement of a competitively won $100,000 grant from TD Bank’s “Housing for Everyone” Program. Jubilee was one of 25 recipients of these “Housing for Everyone” awards — a $2.5 million TD Bank program for 2011 — and Jubilee will use its grant in the recently announced project of renovating the 65-unit Maycroft Apartments.

Completion of the Euclid and Sorrento marked the first use by Jubilee of federal historic preservation tax credits in the programmatic mix of funding which came together to launch these two building renovations.

The Euclid and Sorrento, the second of the overall project’s two phases, followed the renovation of the 27-unit Ontario Court apartments, which was sandwiched between this second phase and that of the first phase which had included renovation of the 29-unit Mozart, the 60-unit Ritz, the 12-unit Fuller Court, and the 17-unit Marietta.

All seven of these apartment buildings are in the Reed-Cooke section of Adams Morgan, a neighborhood in transition from a residential/light industrial zone to a residential/community-serving retail zone. New housing construction in Reed-Cooke has primarily been luxury condominiums priced at market rate, with only a few affordable units, and these units being priced at the high end — typically 80 percent of the Average Median Income (AMI) of the Washington Metropolitan area, which is roughly $100,000.

In an eloquent statement on the Jubilee Housing website, the Adams Morgan community it serves is characterized as being among a Washington working class segment, two thirds of which make less than 30 percent of the AMI, and work in service and support roles often at no more than minimum wage.

The community’s racial and ethnic composition –- 58 percent black, 33 percent Latino, and 9 percent identifying as other –- reflects the neighborhood’s historic multi-cultural diversity, and supported by Jubilee providing 215 households in these seven apartment buildings with newly renovated apartments that provide an anchoring basis for both those whose age and medical conditions predicts long-term occupancy and for younger families and individuals who will ultimately transition into market rate apartments or moderate income housing being pioneered by organizations such as Manna and other Washington non-profits.

The renovations and historic preservation of these handsome, almost 100-year-old brick, stone, and masonry apartment buildings have been widely praised both in the community and by Washington philanthropic agencies as well as by government agencies, banking and other funding institutions, and fellow non-profits.

Specific costs for the Euclid and Sorrento renovations included a $9.6 million Historic and Low Income Housing Tax Credit Equity from PNC Real Estate, $5 million in financing from United Bank, a $3.6 million Home Investment Partnership Program loan from DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and 52 units of local rent supplements program subsidy from the District’s Housing Authority.

“This project is a prime example of how government can partner with the non-profit sector to leverage private sector investment and preserve quality affordable housing,” said DHCD Director Leila Finucane Edmonds. PNC Bank Regional President Michael N. Harreld added, “We understand the value of mixed income diverse neighborhoods and the financial challenges inherent in developing them — challenges that are magnified in the current economic environment.”

In conversation with this reporter, Jubilee Housing’s Executive Director Jim Knight reflected on Jubilee’s overarching program mission, one strategically promoted by its early inspirational supporter, the famed area developer James Rowse — namely, a mission to provide safe and affordable housing to families and individuals, often desperately in need of such accommodations. Once housing is met, so goes this remarkable philosophy, there is then the opportunity to meet other goals — for example, adequate health care, education and training, and jobs. Knight noted that not every resident of Jubilee Housing would transit out, echoing the age and medical condition concerns and conditions of stable, long-term residents.

Knight also emphasized Jubilee’s innovative educational programs such as Jubilee Jump Start serving infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers; Jubilee Youth Services which includes after-school programs and computer labs; a wellness center, and referrals to related programs within walking distance in Adams Morgan.

Those wishing to visually appreciate the dramatic appearance of newly renovated and restored Jubilee Housing apartment buildings need only take note of the Sorrento Apartments at 18th and Kalorama Road, whose now restored exterior façades brightly reflect the fascinating brick and stone work of the building’s original construction. Smiles on the faces of residents entering and leaving no doubt reflect the handsome appearance of the individual apartments inside and their state-of-the-art appliances and conveniences.