As the long-awaited Bates Street neighborhood renewal is becoming a reality in Northwest, the partnership completing that rehabilitation is planning a major housing and commercial complex on a former public housing site in Northeast.
The Bates Street (NW) Associates Limited Partnership is taking on its second project for the city in its Parkside site, 26 acres along the Anacostia River at Benning Road and Kenilworth Avenue in Northeast. Parkside was the home of thousands of low-income District residents from the time 351 public housing units were built there in 1941 to its demolition in 1968.
The partnership was chosen by the District government to develop the land into a $60 million residential and commercial complex that will include 358 town houses, 184 rental apartments and about 200,000 square feet of office and shopping space over underground parking.
Work is scheduled to begin this spring. The complex is being designed by Devrouax & Purnell and Kvell & Corcoran. The site is being purchased for $1.2 million from the city. A major supermarket and a big drug store are expected to be anchor tenants.
"Considering that the site should revitalize the area between the national arborteum and the Anacostia River and be convenient to the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station, the project should be highly exciting and worthwhile to the community," said Carlton Jones, whose real estate company, Jones-Wells and Associates, handles sales on Bates Street. It will be the management and leasing agent for the Parkside project.
Partners in the Bates Street group include Jack White, George Holmes, Dennis Makielski and John Haley. The latter pair joined White and Holmes in the partnership last summer after the Bates Street work was underway. "There was an opportunity to participate and it is working out well," said Makielski.
He and Haley are both former aircraft pilots who have been doing rehabilitation and development in recent years. They refurbished and later sold an old office building at 1420 New York Ave. NW, built an office building in Clinton, Md., and houses in southern Maryland and did some residential rehabilitation in Baltimore.
All but 10 of the 119 rehabilitated Bates Streets houses -- the neighborhood is north of New York Avenue and south of Florida Avenue -- have been sold or rented. The houses have been selling recently for more than $80,000.
Some have been sold to lower-income purchasers under the FHA Section 235 ownership program at prices around $38,000, and some have been converted into rental units for tenants who are eligible for federal rent subsidies.
Three years ago, prices were expected to range from $38,000 for a three-bedroom unit to $44,000 for a four-bedroom house. Even at those prices, members of a neighborhood action committee complained that low-income displacees from the area would not be able to afford to move back. Thus far, 17 residents of the Shaw area displaced by the urban renewal project have moved back to the renovated homes.
Robert L. Moore, director of housing and community development for the city, said he is satisfied that the project is adequately serving former residents. Forty-four of the houses renovated in this first phase of development have been bought by low-income families, he noted. The three- and four-bedrooms homes carry a 4 percent mortgage rate -- with a $10,000 down payment -- making mortgage payments $210 a month.
Carlton Jones said that new residents at Bates Street form a balanced and integrated group, with incomes ranging from $17,000 to more than $40,000. He added that all of the dwellings were on the verge of being sold last fall -- until fast-rising mortgage interest rate increases made it financially impossible for some of the potential purchasers to qualify for financing. Currently FHA and VA financing are available, plus some conventional loans at 12 7/8 percent.
The Bates project is scheduled to be completed in late spring. The three and four-bedroom houses have energy-saving features, including solar heating, for domestic hot water.
Michael and June Behrmann and their infant son moved to the new Bates Street in June. "We literally stumbled into it," said the 31-year-old George Mason University teacher. "We found the suburbs too costly and otherwise unacceptable. We wanted to be in the city and our $76,000 price was unmatchable elsewhere.
"So far we've had an attempted break-in at the house and our car was entered. But that's a problem almost anywhere these days. We anticipate fewer problems in the future."
Behrman commutes 22 miles (30 minutes) "against the traffic" to and from his teaching job in Virginia.