Nonprofit developer DHIC Inc. plans to revamp more than 19 acres of housing east of downtown, kicking off years of public and private investment around the College Park neighborhood.
Residents and neighbors got their first look at what the new Washington Terrace might look like on Thursday. Designers unveiled their early sketches for a community with apartments, townhouses and community amenities that could include a school, park or child care center – all while preserving affordable housing units and adding market rate homes.
The plans envision a neighborhood with apartments and homes that front the street, green spaces where the community can gather and improved sidewalks that will make residents feel safe when they walk along busy Raleigh Boulevard.
The nonprofit bought the 65-year-old Washington Terrace apartment complex early in 2014, paying about $4.7 million for its 245 units, just east of Saint Augustine’s University. The group’s mission is to build affordable housing.
DHIC, which goes only by its initials, would demolish and rebuild the community, increasing the number of housing units to as many as 400. The nonprofit plans to build the units for people at a variety of income levels, but intends to preserve at least the current number of “affordable” units.
Donna Sorrell, who’s lived in the apartments since 1999, said she’s pleased by what she’s seen so far, including amenities such as new laundry facilities and new residential units. She’s also glad about DHIC’s commitment to affordability.
“I think they’re doing pretty good,” she said. “We’re ready for change, because Washington Terrace is ready for change.”
DHIC first began working in the neighborhood about 40 years ago.
The project is “something that we felt we were almost called to do because of our history in this neighborhood,” said Gregg Warren, president and director of the group. “We really felt like we were capable of making a transformational impact on this neighborhood.”
The company already has hosted a series of community meetings, and more are planned as the design process continues. Residents have been asked to weigh in on if and how the street grid should change, how housing should be laid out within the site, and how the site fits into the larger community.
Designers will refine the plan in the coming months and expect to present a final version by late summer. Demolition would begin in the early fall at the earliest.
Some people may have to move from unit to unit within the complex as development begins, but DHIC plans to allow all current residents to stay in the community.
“They want to ensure that they’re able to remain in the community, certainly valuing the rich history, strong sense of pride that currently exists,” said Yvette Holmes, director of community partnerships and development at DHIC.
To ease the transition, the group has allowed about 100 units to go vacant as people have left the community.
In all, redevelopment could cost $40 million, Warren said.
The city helped DHIC buy the land by issuing a $2.1 million, zero-interest loan in 2013, with a five-year repayment period. The nonprofit also has received $150,000 from the Wells Fargo Housing foundation and $35,000 from Enterprise Community Partners for planning.