Residents of the drug-plagued Paradise Manor Apartments in Northeast will become cooperative owners of their homes when a $9.5 million renovation of the complex is completed in 1990, according to an agreement reached last night.
At an evening reception at the District Building, representatives of the residents' council, the current owners of the complex and its past owner signed an agreement considered unique because of the involvement of private, federal and local government financing and the size of the complex.
Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), who sponsored the reception, told more than 100 Paradise Manor residents who attended the ceremony that by entering into the agreement with Jay Street Associates, the partnership that bought the complex last December, they "will be building toward a true paradise."
Tenants, Crawford said, will become owners of homes "surrounded by a beautiful landscape, in a neighborhood in which you will enjoy living and a place where you can rear your children free from the elements of crime and drugs."
The 672-unit Paradise Manor sits on a 22-acre horseshoe-shaped tract off Kenilworth Avenue between Jay and Hayes streets NE near the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. In the last year, along with the adjoining Mayfair Mansions Apartments, it has experienced a drug trafficking wave and a related flood of assaults and slayings.
Drug dealers and their customers turned the area into a virtual 24-hour drug store and at least six drug-related slayings have occurred there within the last year.
But a renewed effort by D.C. police, who established a permanent liaison bus in the area this summer and conducted numerous raids there as part of the Operation Clean Sweep drug offensive, has significantly decreased drug trafficking and related crimes, tenants said. They cited their own increased vigilance against drug sales.
"This is only the beginning," Nell Roberts, president of the Paradise Manor Resident Council, told the gathering, which included seven D.C. Council members and representatives of city and federal housing departments, as well as tenants.
"We must band together to make our resident council strong," Roberts told Paradise Manor residents, "for one day in the future we will be homeowners."
Marilyn Melkonian, president of Telesis Corp., the firm that organized the Jay Street Associates purchase of the property from the Mayfair Foundation, said renovation has already begun on 16 apartments and the exteriors of two of the 15 buildings.
Melkonian told Paradise residents the project was "about a better future, about the creation of enduring value" that is "not in the bricks and mortar" but is "realized by the people that live there."