CPDC’s Turning Point (2005 – 2010)
Tribute #7 – Our New Niche: Transforming Abandoned Buildings into High-Quality Affordable Housing
Prior to 2005, CPDC’s real estate portfolio included properties that were occupied and in desperate need of rehabilitation. That all changed when CPDC was selected by Arundel Community Development Services, Inc. (ACDS) to convert an abandoned school building into high-quality affordable housing for seniors in Annapolis, MD. Following the complete redevelopment of the Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park in 2006, CPDC added adaptive reuse as a new niche.
Envisioning a Future for Wiley H. Bates High School
Wiley H. Bates High School was the first freestanding secondary school for all African American children in Annapolis, MD (the state capital) and surrounding Anne Arundel County. The school’s namesake, Wiley H. Bates, was born into slavery but, after emancipation became one of Annapolis’ wealthiest citizens. The school opened in 1933, and grew into the cultural center for all African Americans in the County—a place where they could attend social, theatrical, and sporting events—even night school. After desegregation, the school was converted to a middle school and in 1981, it was abandoned. A hulking structure with no clear future, the school sat vacant for more than 20 years.
Beginning in 1995, the county-designated project manager, ACDS, developed a plan for the adaptive re-use of the school—it would again be a center for the community, providing affordable housing, recreational and educational facilities for youth and seniors, and an enduring memorial to the community’s heritage.
Creating an Environment for Residents to Grow and Thrive
CPDC and Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures, LLC were selected by ACDS to develop the former classroom wings of the school into The Residences at Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park, a 71-unit affordable housing community for seniors. The redevelopment also included a space for the current Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center, an exhibit space devoted to the history of the school and its community. ACDS managed the development of the remaining space into the Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis and the Annapolis Senior Center, a county-operated senior activity center which offers a broad range of educational, cultural and recreational opportunities.
The Residences’ wide corridors, high ceilings, tiled walls, and terrazzo floors are reminiscent of the building’s prior use, while the full-height windows in the former classrooms now provide an extraordinarily bright and spacious feel in the bedrooms and living rooms of the apartments. Amenities on the property include community meeting rooms, a computer-learning center, high-speed internet access in each apartment, a health care and support center and a hair salon, and an emergency call system that covers the entire property. In addition, residents have direct access to the senior center.
The Residences enables its residents to successfully age-in-place by providing lifestyle and community-driven programs to encourage active and healthy lifestyles, maintain resident involvement in the surrounding community, and promote the skills, creativity, and heritage of older adults. CPDC’s on-site resident services manager works with residents and with service providers to ensure that the needs and interests of residents are met.
Completed in the summer of 2006 and formally reopened on September 8, 2006, the renovation of the property preserved the building’s historic character while also creating an inviting and accessible environment for property residents and members of the Annapolis community.
Structuring the Financing
The historic nature of the building and its deteriorated condition, along with the very low incomes of targeted residents, required CPDC to secure seven sources of permanent funding. Private sector financing consisted of a permanent first mortgage from PNC Bank, a construction loan from SunTrust Bank, a bridge loan from Enterprise Community Loan Fund, and tax credit equity syndicated through Hudson Housing Capital. The public sector financing included an allocation of 9% low-income housing tax credits, a private foundation grant, and secondary loans from ACDS and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, plus federal and state historic preservation tax credits. In a unique twist, the state historic tax credits, which usually attract approximately 65 cents on the dollar, were syndicated to CPDC. Since CPDC owed no Maryland tax, it could receive the full amount of the tax credit as a refund, and pay 100 cents on the dollar for the credits. A total of $14,393,279 in funding was secured.
Recognizing a Model Design and Community Treasure
In honor of preserving a building that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, enlivening an area that had been quiet for more than 20 years, and creating 71-units of new, dedicated affordable housing in a fast-growing, affluent community, The Residences received three awards in 2007—finalist for the 2007 Awards for Excellence: The Americas from the Urban Land Institute; finalist for the 2007 Reader’s Choice Awards for the Nation’s Best Affordable Housing Developments of the Affordable Housing Finance magazine; and the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers 2007 Best Project in Maryland award.