WASHINGTON, D.C.—When the Washington Nationals start playing baseball in their new stadium next spring, the elderly residents of Arthur Capper Senior Apartments will have a short walk to take in a game.
The proximity of the property to the new stadium is no coincidence. The new 162-unit development was the first building constructed as part of a massive redevelopment project in what had been one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the city.
The Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg project is a 1,759-unit mixed-income development by Mid-City Urban and Forest City Residential, in conjunction with the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA).
The overall plan calls for one-for-one replacement of 707 public housing units, 492 market-rate rental units, 118 affordable homes for purchase, 50 homeownership units where buyers can use housing vouchers, 140 market-rate homes for purchase and 90 market-rate condominium units. It is slated for completion in multiple phases through 2010.
“The original public housing on the site was a drag on social and economic growth that could occur in the neighborhood. We were the first to turn dirt in the area,” said Michael Kelly, executive director of the DCHA. “The Capper project was the beachhead for redevelopment of the entire neighborhood.”
Like many other public housing redevelopments, Capper brings together a mix of various income groups. “When we do a project like Capper, it’s a way of embedding social justice in redevelopment. In the past, people in the area could not get a cab or get a pizza delivered. Now they have access to all the services that people in other neighborhoods have,” Kelly said.
According to Mid-City Urban, the seniors building served to stabilize the area and prepared the market to support the remaining development components.
Completed in December 2006, Arthur Capper Senior Apartments has 155 onebedroom and seven two-bedroom units, all occupied by public housing tenants. Public areas and 15 percent of the units are fully accessible to the disabled. Building amenities include a courtyard, an observation deck, and space for medical exams.
The building replaces a public housing project for seniors of the same name. Under existing zoning for the site, the seniors project could be built “as of right,” so the developer decided to proceed with it before moving forward with other elements of the project. Seniors could move directly from the old building to their new homes with no interim relocation.
Total development cost for the complex was $19.7 million, or $121,638 per unit. The project used a tax credit allocation of $6.9 million, or $42,557 per unit. Equity investment of $6.9 million was raised from Hudson Housing Capital.
Financing included a HOPE VI grant of $12 million, which was used as collateral for bonds issued by the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency.
The development offers on-site medical checkups and pharmacy services, as well as in-home care and medication management.
The maximum rent is $800 per month, compared to a market-wide average of $1,896, but tenants are paying an average of only $300 based on their income levels, according to Mid-City. The tenants earn an average of only 14 percent of the area median income.
The tenants’ old building was a converted warehouse, which was divided into 350- square-foot apartments with inoperative elevators and frequent sewage backups. It will be demolished this year. Other older public housing structures have already been demolished.
The four-story building used wood frame construction at a substantial savings over steel construction.
Arthur Capper Senior Apartments
Developers: Mid-City Urban, LLC, and Forest City Residential
Architect: Torti Gallas & Partners–CHK
The Lessard Architectural Group
Shalom Baranes Associates Architects, PC
Major Funders: Department of Housing and Urban Development
District of Columbia Housing Authority
Hudson Housing Capital
District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency