CPDC’s Formative Years (1989-2004)
Tribute #3 – Our Flagship: Transforming the Edgewood Terrace Community
In the early 1990s, at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, Edgewood Terrace served as one of the largest drug markets in the district. The neighborhood was known by many as “Little Beirut” because of its economic and physical deterioration and crime. When CPDC acquired the property in 1995, the team immediately identified three crucial factors that had to be addressed in order to create positive change in the community: 1) partnerships with key community leaders, 2) redevelopment of the property, and 3) provision of onsite programs and services for residents. These efforts helped CPDC transform Edgewood Terrace into its flagship community.
Creating Community Partnerships
CPDC recognized early on that creating strong partnerships was one of the keys to successfully revitalizing the Edgewood community. Entering an area that was once patrolled by U.S. Park Police meant that safety was a huge challenge for neighborhood residents. Without overcoming that barrier, no renovations could take place. After months of community meetings and outreach, CPDC had forged alliances with the Metropolitan Police Department, the Edgewood Tenant Association, and members of the broader community. The strength of the partnerships allowed CPDC to make a co-investment with residents to improve the safety and physical conditions of the property.
Redeveloping Edgewood Terrace I
Edgewood Terrace I contained 292 apartments made up of a mid-rise building and six garden apartment buildings. CPDC’s vision was to complete a full rehab and to convert the low-income property into a mixed-income community. CPDC’s real estate team carefully assembled a sophisticated, multi-layered financing package; one that maximized participation by private financial institutions and that leveraged an upfront grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Wachovia Bank provided the first mortgage. The project was also awarded a forgivable loan for rehabilitation from the Affordable Housing Program of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. In addition, the District of Columbia provided support through a low-interest loan as well as a capital grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development.
The large public investment in the redevelopment of Edgewood Terrace enabled CPDC to rehab the property and structure its tenant mix to include 114 units for households with very low income (50% of the AMI) and the remaining 178 units for market-rate residents (at or above 80% AMI).
Providing Innovative Programs and Services
The last factor CPDC addressed as part of the Edgewood Terrace transformation was the provision of innovative, on-site programs and services. CPDC’s community development programs were designed to equip residents with the tools and resources they needed to become stable and self-sufficient. Al Browne, CPDC’s Vice President and Director of Community Development Programs, joined the team in 1996 and was largely instrumental in strengthening its programs and attracting major donors. One such funder was Microsoft Corporation.
In 1998, Microsoft made a substantial investment that helped CPDC create an “electronic village” at Edgewood Terrace. Lauded as the first wired affordable housing community that offered free internet access to residents, CPDC leveraged Microsoft’s funds to create The Gateway @ Edgewood Terrace. The Gateway was a state-of-the-art computer learning center comprised of four networks labs with over 60 workstations equipped with Microsoft Office software, personal productivity applications, educational resources, reference materials, and more. The center provided residents with access to technology while CPDC’s adult classes and youth development programs helped resident improve their technological and other professional development skills.
Through strong partnerships, a major redevelopment effort, and the provision of innovative programs and services for residents, CPDC transformed an inner city neighborhood once plagued with drugs and crime into a prize community.