Through the stories in Preservation Works: LISC DC’s Role in Preserving Quality Affordable Housing, we give a voice to the people who are working tirelessly to preserve their homes.
Furthermore, Preservation Works illustrates the value of this work and highlights the resources necessary for successful preservation. The following story focuses on the transformation of Edgewood into a vibrant, mixed-income community.
In the 1990’s, the Edgewood Terrace apartment complex was known as one of the city’s busiest drug markets. As tenants fled, vacancies within the 800-unit complex reached nearly 60%.
In 1995, HUD foreclosed on the first of Edgewood’s four main sections: a seven story tower with 292 units (Edgewood I). The Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC) bought the building.
CPDC’s purchase ultimately led to the “rebirth of Edgewood Terrace,” with ripple effects for the surrounding community. The building was renovated to include units for a broader mix of income levels, and the complex’s unused commercial space was redeveloped to house social programs for residents. CPDC ultimately purchased and renovated the remaining three portions of Edgewood, relying on complex financing from HUD, Wachovia Bank, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, DHCD, and a long list of donors.
Nearly twenty years later, Edgewood Terrace — now rebranded as Edgewood Commons—is fully occupied and nationally recognized for its revitalization. But the property requires additional improvements to maintain affordability and enhance quality of life for residents. Some priorities include creating more pleasant common spaces, improving security and lighting, and upgrading units to increase energy efficiency.
By redesigning the exterior grounds, CPDC hopes to foster a greater sense of community between residents and the wider Edgewood Commons community. Plans include a community garden, fitness trail, and more play space for kids. The goal is for the Edgewood neighborhood to see Edgewood Commons as a resource, and as a place where residents want to live and raise their children.
CPDC completed the first round of renovations on Edgewood IV in 2014. Gregory Thomas, long-term resident of Edgewood Commons, says that these improvements, which include renovations to interior and exterior common spaces, have promoted a sense of ownership and pride among residents of Edgewood IV. Residents are using the outside space—sitting by the fountains and playing the outdoor musical instruments. CPDC hopes that the outcomes they have seen in Edgewood IV will serve as a harbinger of success for the impending larger renovations on the rest of the campus.
Edgewood I, the largest section of the campus, is now undergoing renovations. The funding for this required significant maneuvering. To preserve longer-term affordability of the property, CPDC sought FHA 221(d)(4) financing. However; the preapproval process for this financing requires extensive predevelopment. According to Stacie Birenbach, Senior Real Estate Development Officer at CPDC, this was a very long process with many fees, requiring nearly $1.8 million before closing on financing.
LISC DC was instrumental in securing this final financing package. We provided a $1,100,000 loan for the required predevelopment work to be completed, enabling CPDC to secure the 221d financing. Beyond that, Birenbach says that LISC DC understands the importance and complexities of preservation work. This makes LISC and CPDC strong partners, part of “an extended family.”
Our investments in the preservation of affordable housing reflect our belief that the District of Columbia should be a place where all residents—regardless of their income—can live, work, and raise their children in healthy and sustainable neighborhoods. As witnessed by LISC DC over the past 30 years, preservation helps prevent displacement, improves living conditions, and enhances the overall quality of life in our neighborhoods. Moving forward, we will continue providing timely, flexible, and diverse resources that fulfill our commitment to the preservation of affordable housing.