Just steps from the U.S.-Mexico border, Bowman Senior Residences has removed blight and replaced two century-old properties with service-enriched affordable housing in downtown Nogales, Ariz.

Originally built in the early 1900s, the Bowman and DeAnza buildings had operated as hotels and then SRO-style multifamily housing until they were boarded up in the late 1980s after suffering from years of neglect.

Nogales Community Development, which was formed to protect the historic downtown corridor, partnered with developer Gorman & Co. to make its vision of redeveloping the two buildings a reality.

The development team preserved the historic front and rear façades of the Bowman and demolished the rest of the two buildings. The new development created 48 one-bedroom units for seniors 62 and older, a library, a computer lab, a community kitchen, a fitness center, a lounge area, and free wireless Internet throughout the building. All units are designed with Universal Design principles to allow seniors to age in place and be accessible for the physically disabled.

“It has been an incredible game-changer for the downtown’s redevelopment efforts,” says Brian Swanton, Arizona market president for Gorman.

The development, which was completed at the end of 2015, meets a critical need for the border town’s seniors.

“The need for housing is huge in Nogales,” says Swanton. “We’re told by the housing authority that the biggest problem isn’t the supply of housing, but the quality of housing. We’re dealing with an incredibly low-income population that were having a very difficult time finding adequate, quality housing.”

The units are set aside for residents earning between 40% and 60% of the area median income. Twenty of the units are covered with project-based Sec. 8 vouchers to make it a sustainable project and affordable to the lowest-income residents, says Swanton.

The $12.1 million development was financed primarily with low-income housing tax credits. Enterprise Community Investment was the syndicator, and American Express was the investor. It also received a Sec. 538 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, housing trust funds from the Arizona Department of Housing, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Program funds, and a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for rural economic development.