November 17, 2020 (Richmond, Va.) – City of Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Lenora Reid, Interim Chief Executive Officer for Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RRHA) Stacey Daniels-Fayson, Virginia Housing CEO Susan F. Dewey, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Director Erik Johnston and other community leaders joined representatives of Enterprise Community Development (ECD) today – socially distanced and with masks on -- for the grand opening of a $30 million mixed-income and mixed-use infill development in the National Historic Landmark neighborhood of Jackson Ward.
The project draws inspiration from the rich neighborhood of Jackson Ward, listed as a National Historic Landmark District in 1978. During the early 20th Century, Jackson Ward was the region's epicenter of Black banking and commerce and has been referred to as "Black Wall Street," much like a similar thriving business community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The area was also home to many theatres, jazz clubs, churches, schools and other institutions that were central to life in this vibrant community leading it to also be known as the “Harlem of the South.” The Rosa, a four-story building located at 744 N. 2nd Street, provides 72 homes for low-income seniors, and is named after renowned local educator Rosa Dixon Bowser, the first Black teacher hired in Richmond and who helped create Virginia's first professional African American teachers association. The adjacent Van de Vyver Apartment Homes, located at 701 N. 1st Street, features 82 mixed-income apartments, including 36 affordable units designated for workforce housing and is named after the school for predominantly African Americans that was once on the site.
"We celebrate with the community today the completion of this phase of the Jackson Ward revitalization project," said Erik Johnston, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. "Increasing the availability and affordability of housing throughout Virginia is possible because of city and community leadership combined with the support of the Governor and General Assembly who have increased the state housing trust fund to invest in innovative projects just like this.”
Although primarily new construction, the project also included the adaptive reuse of an historic convent into eight of the multifamily units, as well as the preservation of a garden established by the Catholic Diocese to commemorate the former site of St Joseph’s Catholic Church, believed to be the first Catholic congregation for African Americans in the South. The complex also features 6,000 square feet of much-needed retail space. This project not only redevelops a site that was once a center of African American commerce, it re-knits a portion of the neighborhood that was scarred by the mid-century construction of Interstates 95 and 64.
“We were inspired by Jackson Ward’s history, heritage and rich culture, and ECD was committed to preserving that while ensuring the community remains eclectic, diverse and inclusive through this mixed use development,” said Brian McLaughlin, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Development and one of the few African American C-level leaders in the affordable housing industry. “ECD was equally proud to lead cutting-edge development that has created new homes for residents of the obsolete and outdated Fay Towers.”
All residents of The Rosa are previous residents of the aging, isolated Fay Towers, a 200-unit senior community built in 1976.
“It is affordable and truly home to me,” said Sarah L. Parker, one of the former Fay Towers residents who has relocated to The Rosa. “The management and maintenance workers are caring, hospitable and always have the residents’ best interest at heart, and there are many programs available to the residents. I’m over-joyed to be a part of this historical ceremony, dream and vision.”
The ribbon cutting of The Rosa marks the completion of the second phase in a three-part process of enabling Fay Towers residents to move into new, modern homes. The three-phase redevelopment, executed in partnership with the RRHA, is one of the first projects in the country to use HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)’s “transfer of assistance” provision for off-site relocation. The first stage of the process was completed in 2016, when 77 seniors moved into the former Highland Park Public School, which ECD fully renovated. The final phase, currently under construction, is the adaptive reuse of the former Baker School into 50 additional homes, with an expected completion of early summer 2021.
“The ability to provide housing to one of RRHA’s most vulnerable populations is one of RRHA’s proudest accomplishments. It accomplishes our goal of ensuring that our families have a voice and a choice,“ expressed RRHA Interim CEO Stacey Daniels-Fayson.
The mixed-use project relied on a creative public-private partnership. Enterprise Community Development collaborated with six government agencies, including RRHA, the City of Richmond, the State of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Housing, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and two private funders, SunTrust Bank now Truist and Enterprise Housing Credit Investments.
“Today’s ribbon cutting is the culmination of a partnership between ECD, RRHA, the City of Richmond, Virginia Housing and others to provide mixed-income housing in a historic neighborhood of national significance -- one that is a community of opportunity,” said McLaughlin. “When groups come together and use their knowledge, resources and experience to invest in a community, incredible things can happen. The Rosa and Van de Vyver are examples of just that.”
The Rosa and Van de Vyver reflect ECD’s ongoing commitment to affordable and workforce housing development in Richmond. ECD formed earlier this year following a merger of Community Preservation and Development Corporation and Enterprise Homes, Inc. to become the country’s fifth largest nonprofit affordable housing provider. Beyond developing quality homes in communities of opportunity throughout the Mid-Atlantic for more than 16,000 seniors and families, ECD believes in supporting residents and provides customized services and programs.
Crucial elements of the development of The Rosa and Van de Vyver were the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the federal program that finances over 90 percent of America’s low-income housing, and, specifically for The Rosa, HUD’s RAD program, which Congress created in 2012 to preserve and improve public housing.
“Virginia Housing was proud to provide almost $25 million in financing for this community, which offers 154 new affordable apartments in a vibrant and growing neighborhood,” said Virginia Housing CEO Susan Dewey. “Today’s ribbon-cutting is just the latest milestone of our partnership with ECD in Richmond, which includes the Baker School Apartments and the Highland Park senior community. Ultimately, we all share the same affordable housing mission and are united in our efforts to strengthen communities across Virginia.”
“We are proud to partner on delivering funding for The Rosa and Van de Vyver, which will fulfill a critical need for more affordable housing in Richmond,” said Steven Smith, Senior Vice President for SunTrust now Truist. “This investment underscores our focus on affordable housing and carries out our purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities.”
As Jackson Ward is a National Historic Landmark, ECD worked closely with the state, the City, and the Historic Jackson Ward Association throughout the planning and development of The Rosa and Van de Vyver.
“The development team reached out and made concerted efforts to engage the community throughout the process -- and continues to do so. This project supports the community's vision of strategic development -- providing quality housing and retail options that complement and respect the historic and architectural integrity of Jackson Ward,” said Janis Allen, president of the Historic Jackson Ward Association.
Both communities offer amenities including fitness centers, business centers, community/multimedia rooms, lounges, and outdoor patios. Additionally, ECD’s resident services team, Community Impact Strategies, is working with the senior residents at The Rosa in areas such as personal finance, nutrition, health and safety. Both are pet-friendly with the Van de Vyver also offering a dog wash station. The building also features indoor bike storage and high-speed internet in common areas while The Rosa offers an arts and crafts center. The Rosa was built to Earthcraft Platinum standards, the highest level of certification available under Earthcraft.
Grimm and Parker is the project architect and Harkins Builders, Inc. is the general contractor.
Enterprise Community Partners is a proven and powerful nonprofit that improves communities and people’s lives by making well-designed homes affordable and connected to opportunity. As a social enterprise, we bring together the nationwide know-how, policy leadership, partners, donors and investors to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development. Over more than 35 years, Enterprise has created 662,000 homes, invested nearly $53 billion and touched millions of lives.
Enterprise Community Development (ECD) specializes in high-impact residential development, property management and resident supportive services. With 60 years of collective experience, ECD was formed in January 2020 through the combination of Enterprise Homes, Inc. and Community Preservation and Development Corporation. Setting high standards for community planning, affordable housing and a curated residential experience, ECD strives to continue leading innovative solutions in the Mid-Atlantic’s housing market. ECD’s legacy includes the development of more than 16,000 well-designed homes in over 100 communities across the Mid-Atlantic. ECD is part of the Enterprise family of companies.
Amy Burke Friedman, Profiles, Inc.