Delaware state officials celebrated revitalization efforts in Wilmington’s Eastside during the grand opening of affordable apartments dubbed The Lofts at Clifford Brown Walk .
The 80-unit building developed by the Chatham Bay Group is a former abandoned warehouse built in 1917, which has been renovated with modern appliances.
“When somebody can live in a place that’s nice and attractive, the pride they feel and the way they take care in the property can improve a community,” said Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, during the ceremony on Wednesday.
The Chatham Bay Group has a reputation for redeveloping historic buildings, and although the Lofts has modern amenities, it retains the historical integrity with exposed brick and giant windows. Amenities include stainless steel appliances, a fitness center and private parking.
“We were looking for a need that needed to be filled in Wilmington, which is the need for quality affordable housing,” said Jay Freebery, principal of the company and a Delaware native. “We were just out seeking a historic building we could redevelop into housing.”
The Delaware State Housing Authority contributed a $2.6 million housing development loan and administered federal tax credits to help finance the development, which was an $18 million investment.
The development company had to remove soil contamination on the side of the building, and DNREC was able to assist in the remediation process as well as finances.
The project is one of many that helps eliminate the stigma of affordable housing, such as the belief it attracts the wrong crowd to a neighborhood, said Anas Ben Addi, director of DSHA.
“We are proud we have construction standards, and we have rules even after they move in, and we hold them to high standards because we don’t just want the project to look good—we want it to succeed in the long run so we can further our mission of affordable housing throughout the state,” he said.
State officials say the area is attractive because of its proximity to the city’s downtown area and to businesses.
Residents have already started moving in, and the apartments are accepting applications. The maximum income of eligible residents ranges from $34,080 for a one-person unit to $52,560 for a five-person unit. One-person apartments rent for $760 per month.
City Councilman Darius Brown said there’s a lack of quality affordable housing in Wilmington, and this project means individuals won’t have to leave the city to find it.
“We wanted to continue our work to create livable neighborhoods, and part of that is creating a lifelong community, meaning at every stage of life we have a desirable housing stop for residents of our district,” he said.
This is not the only effort in place to revitalize the neighborhood—there’s an eight town home project, Walnut Place, and affordable apartments known as Jazz Court nearby. Brown said the projects will help bring about business and entertainment in the area.
“They don’t just want a place they can reside, they want a place they can live, work and play and that’s what this project provides for us,” he said.