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Affordable senior apartments open in Shaw



The gymnasium before conversion

The gymnasium after conversion

Mission First HDC, Urban Matters Development and Mount Lebanon CDC have cut the ribbon on their latest affordable development: 82 affordable apartments for seniors in Shaw.

The House of Lebanon, as the development is now called, was a conversion of a historic vocational school and 70s-era gymnasium addition. Both buildings, at 27 O St NW, were declared surplus by the District in 2009. Mission First and its partners were awarded a development agreement to convert the structure into affordable senior housing in 2010.

Turning a school into apartments took some doing, says Mission First senior project executive Elizabeth Everhart. Each classroom essentially became an apartment, so the team had to build new bathrooms and kitchens in each one. The developers also restored all the windows on the historic side of the building and reclad the facade. One touch that hints at the building's former use: "We did reinstall some of the lockers in one of the hallways," says Everhart.

The $23 million project contains a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units at a mix of affordability levels, Everhart says. Just over one in five are set aside for residents making 30 percent of the area median income (which is $107,500 for a family of four). Three quarters are reserved for residents at 60 percent of AMI, and the remaining four units are available at market rate.

New residents are beginning to move in and the building is already more than 50 percent leased. "At the ribbon cutting," Everhart says, a resident spoke who said that "she's been waiting for a long time to be able to walk to all the amenities that have come to the neighborhood."

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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