Affordable Across America: Northeast

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50 Projects for 50 Years

PROJECT: The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence | Washington, DC
Opened in 2017
DEVELOPER: McCormack Baron Salazar; Saint Louis, MO
FAVORITE OF: Richard Baron, Chairman and Founding Partner, McCormack Baron Salazar
DESCRIPTION: This property near Union Station in Washington, DC includes both general affordable housing (reserved for residents earning up to 60 percent of area median income) and homeless veteran housing, operated on a supportive model. Amenities include a community room, bike and transit access, exercise equipment, laundry facilities, security and round-the-clock maintenance services. $9.7 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity was provided through RBC Community Investments, and the VA subsidizes 60 of the residences. The others are financed locally.

“The Conway Residences is a marvelous example of collaborative work when for-profit/not-for-profit/public entities work together to provide quality housing for our homeless veterans, including integrated services from all parties. Great partnership work by McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., Community Solutions and Veterans Administration in combination with Department of Behavioral Health, LIHTC and local resources.” —RICHARD BARON

PROJECT: Harbor Point | Boston, MA
Opened in 1988
DEVELOPER: Corcorans, Mullins and Jennisons; Dorchester, MA
FAVORITE OF: David Abromowitz, Counsel, Goulston & Storrs
DESCRIPTION: This complex in Boston’s southeastern quarter was once a run-down public housing property. As Architect Magazine writes, “By 1979, things were so bad that three-quarters of the 1,504 housing units were boarded up and vacant.” Over a four-year period, the city and new owners transitioned to a mixed-income model, including some market-rate units, wherein the public housing residents were given de facto partial ownership. The project received a Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocation, and the upper income threshold for affordable units is 60 percent area median income. Amenities include a park and youth and health facilities.

“Before there was the HOPE VI program, the transformation of Columbia Point into Harbor Point proved that mixed-income communities, including public housing residents alongside market-rate residents could be successful. For me as a young attorney, working with the leaders of the 400 public housing families as they became co-general partners with the developer, CMJ, Harbor Point opened my eyes to the capacity of tenants to become owners.” —DAVID ABROMOWITZ

PROJECT: St. Rita Place | Philadelphia, PA
Opened in 2021
DEVELOPER: Catholic Housing and Community Services; Philadelphia, PA
FAVORITE OF: Christopher Tully, Director, RBC Capital Markets
DESCRIPTION: This recipient of $12 million in tax credits was built over a vacant lot adjacent to South Philadelphia’s National St. Rita of Cascia Shrine & Church and is now a landmark on the city’s main north-south thoroughfare. The five-story elevator-served building hosts 46 one-bedroom units for seniors 62+, earning 20, 50 and 60 percent area median income, with five designated for homeless individuals.

It also houses the Cascia Center, a Catholic Church program devoted to peacemaking and services for community members impacted by violence. Additional amenities include a courtyard, community room with kitchenette, resident lounges overlooking the plaza on each floor, laundry facilities, supportive service offices, washrooms, mail room, a food cupboard and library.

“St. Rita Place has brought a balanced development to a rapidly changing neighborhood on Philadelphia’s South Broad Street, which has provided seniors on fixed-incomes access to quality housing that meet their changing needs while allowing them to remain in this thriving, transit-rich and walkable community.” —CHRIS TULLY

PROJECT: Veterans Terrace | East Hartford, CT
First phase opens spring 2022
DEVELOPER: The Carabetta Companies; Meriden, CT
FAVORITE OF: William Stetson, Senior Vice President, The Carabetta Companies
DESCRIPTION: Veterans Terrace is a joint venture redevelopment project with the East Hartford Housing Authority that renovated a 150-unit housing community built in the 1950s. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit property is being redeveloped in three phases and financing includes equity raised from four and nine percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits, federally-insured permanent loans, CT Department of Housing soft funds, energy grants/loans and bridge financing. All three phases are 100 percent project-based Section 8 with allowances for market-rate units.

All units include granite counter tops, subway tile backsplashes, luxury vinyl plank flooring throughout, individual apartment entries and security cameras. Some feature cupolas.

“It is very rewarding to be able to bring the East Hartford Housing Authority’s vision into reality.” —WILLIAM STETSON

PROJECT: TWA Flight Center Hotel | Queens, NY, JFK Airport
Opened 2019
DEVELOPERS: MCA Development, LLC; New York, NY
FAVORITE OF: Bill MacRostie, Founder, MacRostie Historic Advisors, LLC
DESCRIPTION: The TWA Flight Center Hotel is a 512-room renovation of the original TWA building built in 1962 by the iconic architect Eero Saarinen who also designed Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC. The building had been empty since TWA went out of business in 2001. The renovation preserved the retro feel of the Flight Center while modernizing it. The redevelopment plan was a public-private partnership among MCR, Jet Blue Airways and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The redevelopment was privately funded with no government subsidies. (MacRostie served as an advisor on the TWA project.)

The old Flight Center serves as the reception area, lobby and conference center and two guestroom wings are built where the boarding gate concourses once stood.

“With the possible exception of his Dulles International Airport Terminal outside Washington, DC, Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport is probably the most iconic mid-century building constructed in the United States. Its unique design and engineering prowess has not been replicated since. After years of preservation efforts, this project has ensured its survival for generations to come.” —BILL MACROSTIE

PROJECT: Via Verde/The Green Way | Bronx, NY
Completed 2012
DEVELOPER: Jonathan Rose Companies; New York, NY
FAVORITE OF: Jonathan F.P. Rose, President, Jonathan Rose Companies
DESCRIPTION: Via Verde/The Green Way in the South Bronx is co-developed by Phipps Houses and Jonathan Rose Companies. The mixed-use project serves a range of income levels, offering 151 affordable rental apartments to low-income households and 71 co-ops that are affordable to middle-income households. Via Verde seeks to integrate nature and the city. The heart of the project is a dynamic garden that serves as the organizing architectural element and spiritual identity for the community. The connected green rooftops of low-rise town homes, a mid-rise duplex building, and a 20-story tower are used to harvest rainwater, grow fruits and vegetables and provide open space for residents.

“In 2006, Shaun Donovan, then commissioner of New York City’s HPD, engaged the local chapter of the AIA to launch a competition to imagine the future of affordable housing to be greener, more beautiful and to better serve the community.  

In 2007, the winner was announced – Via Verde, to be developed by the partnership of Phipps Housing and the Jonathan Rose Companies, and to be designed by Dattner and Grimshaw. Via Verde was an astounding success, showing that design excellence in affordable housing really did make a difference, proving the cost-effective benefits of green design, and modeling mixed-income and a mixed-tenure of affordable rentals and middle-income co-ops. In many ways, around the globe, there is a difference between affordable housing from before Via Verde, and after.” —JONATHAN F.P. ROSE

PROJECT: Jubilee Housing’s Maycroft Apartments’ Low-Income Solar and Resiliency Hub | Washington, DC
Completed May 2019
DEVELOPER: New Partners Community Solar (formed and supported by the Nixon Peabody law firm’s pro bono program); Washington, DC
FAVORITE OF: Jeffrey Lesk, Nixon Peabody Senior Counsel and President, New Partners Community Solar
DESCRIPTION: This low-income rooftop community solar project supports Jubilee Housing’s “deeply affordable” housing community and promotes its Justice Housing mission. The rooftop solar array and storage program provides free monthly electricity credits to Maycroft’s very low-income residents and also powers Washington, DC’s first low-income resiliency hub. It provides Maycroft residents with a solar and battery-powered community center that remains in service in the event of a grid outage. It also gives residents a large, well-lit and ventilated space to gather and charge communication devices, store refrigerated medicine and perishable food, and power critical medical devices.

“This program achieves both Jubilee’s mission of Justice Housing and New Partners’ mission of Environmental Justice. In addition to promoting sustainability and income equality for our most vulnerable population, this trailblazing project has served as a demonstration program for the District and the nation – promoting both environmental and human resiliency.” —JEFFREY LESK

PROJECT: El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 | New York, NY
Completed in 2014
DEVELOPER: Artspace; Minneapolis, MN
FAVORITE OF: Will Law, Chief Operating Officer, Artspace
DESCRIPTION: El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 is a community-driven project, which transformed an abandoned public school in East Harlem into an arts facility. Designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and completed in 1898, then shuttered in the 1990s, this structure is five stories tall with a steeply pitched roof, copper-clad cupolas and a wealth of newly restored decorative terra cotta. Today, the project boasts 90 units of affordable live/work housing for artists and their families, as well as 10,000 square feet of complementary space for arts organizations.

“We are proud of this project because it is one of our best examples of how tapping Low Income Housing Tax Credits for artist affordable housing and Historic Preservation Tax Credits can save an iconic building from the wrecking ball while advancing art and cultural infrastructure. This project would not have happened without the combination of both credits. Bringing communities together in this way is a win for everyone; without this kind of community partnership, nobody’s goals would have been achieved.” —WILL LAW

PROJECT: Genesis | Washington, DC
Opened in 2016
DEVELOPER: Generations of Hope Development Company; Champaign, IL
FAVORITE OF: Marty Bell, former Editor, Tax Credit Advisor
DESCRIPTION: Generations of Hope focuses on encouraging intergenerational communities. Genesis is a 27-unit affordable housing building in Northwest Washington, DC for seniors and young unwed mothers aging out of foster care. Senior residents are required to pledge 20 hours per month of daycare for their neighbors’ children and mothers are required to pledge ten hours per month of errands and help for seniors.

“And I bet you believed no one in Washington, DC knows how to work together. Generations of Hope is an innovative company that spreads goodness through their structures.” —MARTY BELL

PROJECT: National Comedy Center | Jamestown, NY
Opened in 2017
DEVELOPER: Empire State Development Corporation; New York, NY
FAVORITE OF: Mark Olshaker, former Staff Writer, Tax Credit Advisor  
DESCRIPTION: Jamestown, NY is the hometown of the immortal comedienne and pioneering film and television star Lucille Ball. The National Comedy Center, designed by Jack Rouse Associates of Cincinnati, is both home to the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum—which consists of her possessions and other artifacts—and an arts venue that chronicles the history and craft of comedy and celebrates its most innovative and illustrious practitioners. Lucy, a visionary, wanted the building to be a living breathing tribute to comedy that was not fan-based, but a celebration and exploration of art itself. Among the attractions are hologram performances of deceased comedians, such as George Carlin and Richard Pryor, and experiences unique to each visitor based on his or her individual sense of humor.

“In the 15-year history of the program, there has been nothing particularly funny about New Markets Tax Credits. But that changed with this public-private civic consortium in western New York State. Their aspiration was clear and direct: To Be the Laughingstock of the Nation.” —MARK OLSHAKER

PROJECT: Ames Shovel Works | Easton, MA
Opened in 2013
DEVELOPER: Beacon Communities; Boston, MA
FAVORITE OF: Josh Cohen, President, Beacon Communities Development
DESCRIPTION: The Timmy Award-winning redevelopment of Ames Shovel Works in Easton, MA was converted, with significant input from the town, and is an underutilized historic factory complex dating from the mid-1800s into 113 mixed-income apartments. The project also won the Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts.

“This factory complex and the shovels it produced changed the world.  It was an honor to undertake the historic adaptive reuse of these buildings, turning them into homes and re-establishing this site as an anchor of North Easton Village.” —JOSH COHEN

PROJECT: Asbury Dwellings | Washington, DC
Opened in 1982
DEVELOPER: Asbury United Methodist Church; Washington, DC
FAVORITE OF: Peter Bell, CEO, National Housing & Rehabilitation Association
DESCRIPTION: Asbury Dwellings is a senior housing complex on 7th Street and Rhode Island Ave. in Washington, DC opened by Asbury United Methodist Church in 1982. The complex, which contains efficiencies, one- and two-bedroom apartments, occupies the building of the former McKinley Technical High School (1902) and the former Shaw Junior High School (1928). The church purchased the property in 1977 after Shaw Junior High relocated and in December 2008, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This project is a forerunner to the matters we are trying to address today. Minority wealth building, housing security for poor elderly, serving as a catalyst for the redevelopment of a (then) economically depressed and blighted neighborhood, very creative adaptive reuse of an important neighborhood landmark, with numerous design obstacles that had to be worked through to qualify as a historic rehab.” —PETER BELL

PROJECT: Columbus Commons | New Britain, CT
Opened in 2020
DEVELOPER: Dakota Partners; Waltham, MA
FAVORITE OF: Roberto Arista, Principal, Dakota Partners
DESCRIPTION: Columbus Commons is a mixed-use housing project in downtown New Britain that will feature 160 apartment units when both phases are completed by Dakota Partners. This project has transformed the formerly underutilized urban brownfield and former site of the police station headquarters into a vibrant downtown, transit-oriented development. Phase 1 of construction features 80 new apartment homes and 10,000 square feet of commercial storefront. The new building is six stories and was built according to Passive House standards — a set of energy efficient building principles that utilizes heavy insulation, airtight building envelope and heat-recovery ventilation systems to reduce overall energy consumption.

“Columbus Commons is just the second mixed-use, multifamily community built to Passive House standards in the state of Connecticut. In 2020, Columbus Commons was awarded a Connecticut Green Build Council Green Building Merit Award.” —ROBERTO ARISTA

PROJECT: Castle Square Apartments | Boston, MA
Rehabbed in 1992
DEVELOPER: WinnCompanies; Boston, MA
FAVORITE OF: Lawrence Curtis, President and Managing Member, WinnDevelopment
DESCRIPTION: Castle Square Apartments is a mixed-use, mixed-income development in Boston’s South End. The 500-unit community is home to more than 1,300 residents and eight local businesses, occupying 22,000 square feet of commercial space. Capitalizing on the HOPE program, the Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) joined forces with WinnDevelopment in 1992 to form a unique partnership that made the CSTO the property’s 51 percent owner. The company poured millions into renovations of the deteriorated property and implemented an array of resident service programs, making the Castle Square Apartments the single most successful HOPE development and winning multiple industry awards, including Best Urban Tower and Best Urban Low Rise in the Northeast region. In 2008 a Deep Energy Retrofit enhanced the property’s energy efficiency.

“Building quality affordable houses creates opportunities and transforms lives. This is true for its residents, but also for all involved in the development process.” —LAWRENCE CURTIS

PROJECT: Waterside Plaza | New York, NY
Opened in 1974
DEVELOPED BY: Richard Ravitch
FAVORITE OF: Kenneth Lore, Partner, Katten, Muchin, Rosenman LLP; Washington, DC/New York City
DESCRIPTION: Waterside Plaza in New York has nearly 1,500 apartments located on city-owned land on the East River. This project received a 40-year extension of the ground lease of the property from the City of New York in 2020 in exchange for its agreement for the provision of significant long-term affordability to low- and moderate-income residents. It was one of the New York Mitchell-Lama Projects that previously elected to withdraw from the program. The program’s combination of low interest mortgage rates and significant real estate tax benefits resulted in the construction of approximately 100,000 privately-owned rental and cooperative housing units in New York, all of which were affordable to low-, moderate- and middle-income households.

“Current Katten lawyers represented the City and the State of New York in the late 1970s to restructure about 125 Mitchell-Lama Housing Projects and help the City and State of New York to restructure and refinance well over $1 billion of City and State moral obligation bond obligations in the middle of the NYC financial crisis, helping to avoid a City and State bond default. We did this by creating a structure with Department of Housing & Urban Development assistance to bifurcate existing loans into senior and subordinate loans. This was in effect the first senior/subordinate structure, which since has become much more common in real estate transactions.” —KENNETH LORE

PROJECT: Cony High School | Augusta, ME
Opened in 2015
DEVELOPER: Housing Initiatives of New England Corp.; Portland, ME
FAVORITE OF: Cyndy Taylor, President, HINEC
DESCRIPTION: This building, formerly the Cony High School for the City of Augusta, is considered an iconic building for the Augusta community. The alumnae and the City Council greatly supported this reuse. Not only does it provide high-quality affordable housing but many class reunions are held in the grand auditorium. The beautiful interior corridors with original hardwood floors, brick archways and a double stair provide a nice, graceful space for older people to call their home.

 “We are the stewards of this building for the City of Augusta, and everyone is proud of the Cony Flat Iron.” —CYNDY TAYLOR

PROJECT: 402 Rindge Avenue, Cambridge and Rindge Commons | Cambridge, MA
DEVELOPER: Just-A-Start Corporation; Cambridge, MA
FAVORITE OF: David A. Smith, Affordable Housing Institute
DESCRIPTION: Developed in 1970 as a Section 236, 402 Rindge Avenue’s 273 apartments were recapitalized, rehabbed and preserved in 1996 through a LIHPRHA-funded capital grant sale from its original for-profit developer to Just-A-Start (JAS), a Cambridge-based nonprofit community development corporation. A further comprehensive rehab (plumbing replacement, exterior masonry, window repairs and ventilation improvements) was done in 2017 using tax-exempt bonds from MassHousing and four percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Now (2022) the developer has secured upzoning approval to add an Education and Training Center and 101 new apartments over the next several years.

“402 Rindge’s life cycle is living evidence of how our industry has pioneered and evolved many of the principles that undergird affordable housing today: avoid losing affordable housing through innovative preservation financial transactions; recognize changing location dynamics (the 1985 opening of the Red Line Extension to Alewife, just across the street from the property); capture Federal funds when they are available for preservation; migrate ownership to mission-committed entities; find locally-dedicated ownership; and always be forward-looking about the potential to expand and improve the asset. I should know, because I’ve seen it happen here: Not only did our company handle the 1996 preservation sale on unbelievably fast turnaround in the waning days of LIHPRHA, I’ve lived in Cambridge, up and down on the Red Line, for 50 years.” —DAVID A. SMITH

Pamela Martineau is a freelance writer based in Portland, ME. She writes primarily about housing, local government, technology and education.
Mark Fogarty has covered housing and mortgages for more than 30 years. A former editor at National Mortgage News, he has written extensively about tax credits.