WILMINGTON, DEL.—Keith Campbell is amazed at the transformation of this Eastlake neighborhood where he recently bought his new home.
“I’m not surprised that the developer won an award,” said Campbell. “They are beautiful homes. I can’t believe how this has improved the neighborhood, and I remember how it used to look. Plus, I was impressed with the way I was treated throughout the [homebuying] process.”
The neighborhood where Campbell now lives was formerly known as “the Bucket.” It was understood that if people had lived in this part of Eastlake, they had hit the bottom of the bucket. Developer Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc., transformed a former public housing development in this crime-ridden neighborhood into an affordable project consisting of 70 rental and 90 homeownership units. The for-sale portion won the the AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE Readers’ Choice Award for the top affordable homeownership project in the country. “It’s gratifying to see something that, in 1997, was just a vision,” said Glenn Brooks, senior vice president for Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc. “We were able to deliver nice, affordable homes, and the project is doing what we thought it was going to do 10 years later.”
Brooks and his team envisioned the project revitalizing the area, and that is exactly what happened. Seventy-two affordable townhomes were recently built in the neighborhood.
Campbell, who had always been a renter, was in the market to buy a home but was concerned about accessibility features. He uses a wheelchair as a result of a sporting accident when he was 16. A coworker of Campbell’s at the local electric company suggested he check out The Village of Eastlake. Campbell decided to drive by the project one January day.
“The townhome I looked at had lower countertops and a motorized chair lift,” said Campbell. “A chair lift? That’s unheard of.”
Campbell couldn’t pass it up. He ended up buying the last available unit at the development. He plans to build an elevator in his new home to make mobility even easier.
All 90 units at Eastlake consist of three bedrooms. Sixty-two are townhomes (1,360 square feet each). The remaining are duplexes (1,650 square feet each). The homes are reserved for households with widely varying incomes—as low as 26 percent of the area median income (AMI) up to a high of 115 percent. A majority of them (59 homes) are reserved for households earning between 26 percent and 80 percent of the AMI. Homes in the project are priced approximately $20,000 lower than comparable homes in the neighborhood.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the homeownership phase $5.27 million in HOPE VI funds. PNC Bank provided a $3.58 million construction loan. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh awarded $490,000. The state of Delaware provided $250,000 for street improvements, as the developer razed the old project and new streets had to be built. The developer closed the funding gap by creating a Program Income Fund, which had three sources: reinvested lot transfer fees, settlement proceeds, and $1.1 million that became available when the rental portion of the development went to permanent endorsement.
The Wilmington Housing Authority owned the site, so it agreed to reinvest the acquisition cost of the land back into the development at the time of each move-in.
The Village of Eastlake
Developers: Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc.
Architect: Torti Gallas and Partners-CHK, Inc.
Department of Housing and Urban
Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh
State of Delaware