A developer has been chosen to convert the historic Hebrew Home for the Aged in D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood into affordable housing units, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office recently announced.
The 86,000-square-foot building, which has sat vacant since 2009, and an adjacent building that was once the Robeson School is poised for residential redevelopment, with 80 percent of the housing units produced to be affordable units for seniors and families.
The 3.3-acre property operated as the Hebrew Home for the Aged, a retirement facility for elderly Jewish residents, between 1925 and 1969, and then as a city-operated mental health clinic for the District’s homeless residents until it closed in 2009.
The Bowser administration announced that Victory Housing Inc., Brinshore Development LLC and Banc of America Community Development Corporation have been selected to redevelop the vacant property.
The team is one of seven that responded to the city’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s June 2016 solicitation for proposals to redevelop the space.
“With the support of the community, we now have a path forward for this long-vacant property and a plan to create much-needed affordable housing for District seniors and families,” Bowser said. “We know that a critical step in expanding economic prosperity is the production and preservation of affordable housing and it is through projects like this one that we will keep D.C. a city that welcomes people of all backgrounds and income levels.”
The project will produce 187 residential units total and nearly 150 of those units are set to be affordable, a win for the neighbors and housing advocated who pushed for maximum affordable housing in the area with the redevelopment.
The finished community, set to be called Spring Flats, will include 88 senior units in the preserved historic Hebrew House building set to be affordable at or below 60 percent of the area median income; 91 rental units, 66 percent of which will be affordable, located in a newly constructed building adjacent to the Hebrew House; and eight for-sale townhouses fronting Spring Street.
Some of the many building amenities planned include a community kitchen, computer room, wellness center, library, exercise room, an arts and crafts room, off-street parking and a resource efficient design with a LEED Gold-rating.
Financing has not been finalized, but development has been approved by the D.C. Council, D.C. Zoning Commission and the Historic Preservation Review Board.
The city has made a number of attempts to redevelop the site since the closure of the mental health facility. In 2010, the D.C. Department of Human Services proposed turning the District-owned site into homeless shelter for families as an alternative to D.C. General, but high costs and concern of then-Council member Bowser about excess homeless shelters in her Ward 4 halted those plans.
Again, in 2014, the city revisited the idea of developing the property, this time with 200 highly affordable units. But the plan hit a snag when the District learned that it wouldn’t be able to transfer ownership to the D.C. Housing Authority without a formal request for proposal process (RFP).
The Planning and Economic Development Office marshaled the city’s solicitation for the property under its “OurRFP” process to receive community input.
The District’s other OurRFP projects include: The Crummell School (1900 Gallaudet Street NE); Parcel 42 (1707 7th Street NW and 639 Rhode Island Avenue NW); Northwest One (1010-1024 North Capitol Street NW and 33 K Street NW); and Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club (261 17th Street SE).