CHICAGO -- Nonprofit developer Lawndale Christian Development Corp. will build the Martin Luther King Jr. Apartments on a vacant two-acre site owned by the city. The site includes 1550 S. Hamlin Ave., where King once lived.

The project will include a mix of two-, three-, and four-bedroom units ranging from subsidized to market-rate rents.

Part of its $20 million construction costs will come from $1.5 million in lowincome housing tax credits (LIHTCs). The developer plans to leverage those credits into $10 million when it sells them. Construction is expected to begin in 2009.

The King Apartments are part of a broader, three-year effort to assemble land and raise financing for a four-acre Martin Luther King Jr. district. Upon completion, the $40 million district will include the apartments, a museum, a recreation center, a memorial park, and a library.


New Seniors Project for Baltimore

BALTIMORE -- Abingdon Senior Housing, an affordable project for seniors, has opened here. The developer is Catholic Charities.

The $8.1 million four-story building includes 76 one-bedroom apartments for older adults, several community rooms, and a vegetable garden. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided most of the funding, along with contributions from the state and county.

“I oversee six states, and this is one of the most beautiful spaces,” said HUD Regional Director John G. Bravacos, about the project’s fit with the rest of the neighborhood in a Baltimore Sun article.


Group Files Lawsuit Against TDHCA

DALLAS -- Inclusive Communities Project, a locally based civil rights group, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the state’s largest affordable rental housing program perpetuates racial segregation.

The group claims that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has allowed most of the local apartment complexes financed with LIHTCs to be built in urban areas with high concentrations of poverty, crime, and blight. Placing the projects in predominantly minority neighborhoods, according to the suit, has perpetuated racial segregation, the group alleges. The case was filed in March in federal court against the TDHCA and its governing board.

The lawsuit asks the court to require the TDHCA to approve as many tax credit projects in non-minority census tracts as it has in minority census tracts. Michael Gerber, the TDHCA’s executive director, disputed the claims but said he could not discuss specifics of the case, according to the Dallas Morning News. Gerber said the department does not consider the race of potential tenants in its decision whether to approve a project. He said the department has strict policies to avoid heavily concentrating the properties.


Bennett Opens New Senior Community

LANETT, ALA. -- Garden Greene Apartments, a 48-unit affordable development here, has opened. The developer is Auburn, Ala.-based The Bennett Co.

The $6 million project, named for a local longtime educator named John Tom Greene, is targeting seniors earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI). The development consists of 20 one- and 28 two-bedroom apartments with up to 1,060 square feet of living space. Amenities include a clubhouse with a vaulted ceiling, a full kitchen, a television/reading room, laundry facilities, and a computer center.

The building’s exterior features a community garden area, a gazebo, and a picnic area with grills. Each unit is equipped with emergency pull cords in bedrooms and bathrooms that connect to a system of flashing lights and horns on the outside of the apartments to alert community members.

The city of Lanett donated the land to the developer. Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., provided a $4.2 million LIHTC equity investment. The project received more than $1.3 million in HOME funds from the Alabama Housing Finance Authority. Construction and permanent financing was provided by Auburn Bank.

Crosland Breaks Ground in Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Crosland, a developer based in Charlotte, has broken ground on phase two of Dobbins Hill, a 32-unit development in Chapel Hill for households earning no more than 50 percent of the AMI.

Lucius Jones, chairman of the North Carolina Board of Housing Finance, said Chapel Hill is the second most expensive place to live in the state.

“It’s good to be able to produce affordable housing in Chapel Hill because housing is always a challenge for those who don’t make a large income,” said Jones.

The city has committed $120,000 to help fund the project. It is set for completion in April 2009. The affordable project is part of a larger effort to bring mixeduse housing and retail to the area, which will be located just next door to Dobbins Hill.


Partnership Preserves Affordability for Seniors

NORCO, CALIF. -- A newly renovated affordable 86-unit senior community has opened here.

Heritage Park Senior Apartments was acquired last year and extensively rehabilitated by Mission Viejo-based Wasatch Advantage Group and nonprofit Western Community Housing, Inc.

“The original restrictions at the community had expired, with all units reverting to higher market-rate rents,” said Deborah DeGrado, the city housing manager.

Originally built in 1984, the community includes one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 500 square feet to 660 square feet each. All units are set aside for seniors earning a maximum of 60 percent of the AMI. Units will remain affordable for the next 55 years. Monthly rents range from $550 to $675 for a one-bedroom unit, and from $653 to $803 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Total cost of the project, including acquisition and all repairs and renovations, was approximately $13.8 million. Financing included $4.5 million in taxexempt bonds, $4.2 million in LIHTC equity, and a $5.1 million loan from the city of Norco. Wasatch partnered with the nonprofit Western Community Housing, Inc., on the project.

Community Housing and Mercy Convert Hotel

SAN FRANCISCO -- Community Housing Partnership and Mercy Housing have converted a seven-story hotel in the Tenderloin neighborhood into 84 singleroom occupancy apartments for homeless individuals with disabilities.

Known as the Essex, the building was constructed in 1912 and originally called the Hotel Essex. The units have kitchenettes and bathrooms. The project also includes 2,300 square feet of commercial space and 3,300 square feet of community facilities where Community Housing Partnership provides supportive services to residents. The total development cost of the project was $33.7 million.