Renovations to Washington Park Apartments Completed
By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing
ROXBURY – Once faced with the threat of foreclosure and in need of major renovations, the Washington Park Apartments have been fully rehabilitated and affordability for all 96 apartments has been extended for the long term.
The Washington Park Apartments are located on six sites in Roxbury and were redeveloped by the non-profit Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation and WiSe Urban Development, a partnership between WinnDevelopment and Daryl Settles.
MassHousing provided $14.5 million in financing for the Washington Park Apartments, including $11.2 million in bridge financing and a $3.3 million permanent loan. Out of the bridge financing, $1.7 million was used to pay off the existing Fannie Mae loans and prevent foreclosure on the property.
The Washington Park Apartments were one of four apartment communities owned by Boston-based Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that were in danger of being foreclosed on and in need of significant renovation.
Overall, MassHousing provided $54.4 million to the four CDCs to prevent foreclosure of 359 total units and allow for the substantial rehabilitation of the properties. In addition to Nuestra, the other three CDCs are Urban Edge Housing Corporation, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, and Lena Park Community Development Corporation.
The Washington Park Apartments are located in eight buildings on Wyoming Street, Walnut Avenue and Columbus Avenue in Roxbury and Dorchester.
"This was part of a process we worked through day by day to save these properties from foreclosure," MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason said at a recent ribbon-cutting event for the Washington Park Apartments. "This was truly a partnership that had to come together to save these properties. We couldn't be happier to be part of this effort to save the affordability of 359 apartments and see these properties fully renovated."
Settles, the president of WiSe, said in addition to preserving affordability and renovating the Washington Park properties, a large number of construction jobs were created, particularly for minorities, women and neighborhood residents.
"Creating more affordable housing while maintaining ownership and jobs within the community is a national imperative, and WiSe is honored to work with Nuestra to support this effort," he said. "Washington Park will serve as quality affordable housing for families of Roxbury and Dorchester for years to come."
The project was able to employ 390 minority and 50 female workers (69 percent of the total worker hours), and the project engaged minority and women business enterprise companies for over 65 percent of the total construction work (a total of $7.6 million of contract value), Settles said.
"Nuestra Comunidad is proud to celebrate the renovation of the Washington Park Apartments for many reasons. The most important is that 96 apartments will be stable, affordable homes for Roxbury and Dorchester families for many years to come. We know that a platform of housing stability, security and affordability is a key to families' success in education and work," said David Price, Executive Director of Nuestra CDC. "Nuestra also appreciates the opportunity to partner with WiSe Development, a partnership that should be a model for leveraging the resources of for-profit companies and nonprofits with a shared commitment to revitalizing urban neighborhoods and affordable housing preservation and development, led by community-based partners."
The project consisted of an in-place rehabilitation of the existing properties. WiSe and Nuestra renovated all kitchens, bathrooms, as well as living areas, and completed high efficiency upgrades to the HVAC systems in each of the 96 units. Each apartment features new lighting and Energy Star appliances, including dishwashers, disposals, range and refrigerators. In addition, the mechanical and electrical systems in each building were upgraded and all windows were replaced.
"Winn is proud to be part of the development team and to have managed this property for the past 20 years and be able to support the preservation of high quality affordable housing," said Gilbert Winn, Managing Principal of WinnCompanies. "Darryl and Nuestra have been incredible partners to work with and we are proud of the unprecedented minority hiring goals the team has been able to achieve."
WiSe and Nuestra worked with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), MassHousing, the City of Boston and the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) to secure financing for the project. Private financing was also secured from Bank of America and the Boston Community Loan Fund, and equity financing was provided by Boston Financial Investment Management.
"Our first priority with affordable housing is to rebuild and reinvest in it, so this was a big win for the neighborhood and the City of Boston," said John Barros, Boston's Chief of Economic Development.
Information provided by the development team was used in this story.