A Pittsburgh developer and a local community organization have purchased four run-down apartment buildings in the 1400 block of R Street NW and are planning to begin renovating the units for low-income tenants by Oct. 15, city officials said.
Washington Inner City Self Help (WISH), a tenants rights group, and the developer, the National Development Company of Pittsburgh, used $2 million provided by the Aetna Life Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn., plus a $816,000 low-interest loan from the District government to buy the buildings.
Aetna gave WISH the $2 million two years ago in response to protests by community groups around the country that Aetna agents refused to sell insurance in inner-city neighborhoods.
The company has invested more than $23 million in 11 communities and created 1,500 units of new or renovated housing nationwide, said Sanford Cloud, an Aetna vice president.
WISH delayed using the money while it searched for a developer who was willing to renovate the buildings for low-income tenants. The Aetna money will be used to provide a mortgage on the buildings at a reduced interest rate of 10.75 percent. In addition, most of the tenants will receive federal housing subsidies to help them pay their rents.
The buildings, at 1416, 1428, 1432, and 1440 R St., are part of a row of seven identical buildings built around World War I by Washington developer Harry Wardman. They were once luxury buildings with one apartment on each floor, but were chopped into smaller units as the neighborhood changed.