In September, the Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC)
hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at Wheeler Terrace Apartments. The development is set to become the first LEED certified green affordable housing community in the District of Columbia.
Comprised of seven buildings, the 116-unit development project will be the first in the District to be LEED (Gold) certified by the US Green Building Council
, as well as meet the Enterprise Community Partners’ “Green Communities” criteria. CPDC initiated the dual ”green” certification that will include a variety of green innovations: a geothermal heat pump, white reflective vinyl roofs and a green roof demonstration project, innovative clean-air systems and energy-efficient insulation and appliances. Mark James, CPDC Development Officer says, “We must all come to realize that "green" building is the future of affordable housing. Who better to benefit from reduced energy cost and healthy housing conditions than families with modest means?”
Wheeler Terrace, one of 14 crime “hotspots” in the District, is being transformed into the model for affordable, green living standards, and will provide residents with comprehensive community development programs, improved security and health standards, and a Green Opportunities (GO) Center, designed to provide on-site education of green building principles and how they benefit residents.
In an effort to preserve their affordable rents and facilitate needed renovations, the Wheeler Tenants Association (WTA) was incorporated in 2006 with the help of Housing Counseling Services, a non-profit organization that provides housing counseling services for low and moderate-income homebuyers and tenants. WTA exercised its right of first refusal to purchase the site when the owner decided to sell. WTA elected to transfer its ownership and development rights to CPDC in order to redevelop the property.
“Residents see CPDC’s involvement at Wheeler Terrace as part of the solution to the violence and crime by helping to create a better sense of community among the residents, says Sharon Hockaday, WTA Vice-President.
Founded nearly 20 years ago as a DC-based, not-for-profit, CPDC’s commitment to the “preservation of decent, safe and affordable housing as well as providing quality and innovative community development programs” prompted them to take this leap into un-chartered territory. In order to execute the vision for a “Green” Wheeler Terrace, CPDC assembled a creative mix of financing sources and partners, including $10.2 million in funding from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development and $8.1 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by the DC Housing Finance Agency and purchased by Union Bank of California.
In addition, PNC Bank, the nation's leader in certified green buildings, provided a $12.1 million equity investment in Low Income Housing Tax Credits for the rehabilitation of Wheeler Terrace, as well as a $25,000 grant to assist with financial literacy education for the tenants.
“Investing in this innovative community is consistent with our belief that everyone can do their part for the environment," said Michael N. Harreld, President of PNC Bank in Greater Washington. "We hope our leadership in green business practices during the past decade will encourage others to reduce their impact on the environment and enhance our local communities."
Other financing sources for the project include the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Mount Vernon Place, LLC, The Home Depot Foundation, and a HUD Healthy Homes grant through a partnership with the National Center for Healthy Housing.