Somerset, in collaboration with the 3500 14th Street, NW Tenant Association, completed a historic renovation of the Cavalier Apartments and preserved the affordable rents through a Project Based Section 8 contract for all 230 households living there. Mayor Adrian Fenty officiated at the ribbon cutting on April 27, 2009 during which the Cavalier Apartments was renamed “Hubbard Place” in honor of community leader Leroy Hubbard, whose career was dedicated to rebuilding 14th Street after the civil disorders of 1968.
The building, which was constructed in the late 1920’s and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a nine story mid-rise with 230 apartments along with ground floor retail and office spaces, located just blocks from the new DC USA retail complex, the Tivoli Theater, and the Columbia Heights metro line. The renovations and the on-site resident services have transformed this once very distressed property into a vibrant new community which is safe and secure, making the property once again an asset to the neighborhood.
Hubbard Place is a model for preservation and transformation of troubled, publicly-assisted housing into decent and safe homes which provide a platform of opportunity for its residents. Through the collaboration of the federal government, the local government, a core of committed residents, the neighboring community and the private sector, a holistic approach has been taken to address the physical, security, social and economic needs of the property and its residents. Somerset and the tenant association collaborated from the beginning of the project on the design, the temporary relocation plan, and the development of a program of services tailored to the needs of residents. The renovations included new elevators, the creation of new community spaces and a computer lab, secure access, new kitchen and baths, windows, roof, fire and safety code upgrades, and all new common areas.
Through an agreement with the DC Housing Authority, eight of the seventeen new UFAS (handicapped) units, which were built as part of the redevelopment program, were reserved for qualified candidates from DCHA’s waiting list, in exchange for eight housing vouchers which were awarded to very large families living at Hubbard Place apartments in crowded conditions so that they could find more suitable housing off-site. This agreement created a win-win situation for all involved.
Utilizing tax exempt bonds, low income housing tax credits, Federal historic tax credits and financing from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development and DC Housing Authority, Somerset has made major upgrades to the building which have vastly improved the quality of life for the residents. Additional upgrades were made in 2012 working with Clark Energy to improve energy efficiency and water usage, which included retrofitting the water fixtures in each unit with lower flow devices, replacing the hot water boiler, efficient toilets, and new lighting.
Three retail and office spaces for local businesses and a non-profit were created on the ground floor: Black Lion Deli and George’s Shoe Repair, and the Workforce Investment-Social Entrepreneurship (WISE) program of the Latin America Youth Center. In 2012, WISE moved back to LAYC’s main offices and the owner of Black Lion Deli has expanded to create a local market featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, and Ethiopian Coffee, a great amenity in this rapidly changing neighborhood, which was once a food desert.
Working with the tenant association and an array of partners, Somerset provides a broad range of social services. A resident services team on site is responsible for implementing and developing programs and partnerships, which include after school and summer programs, computer instruction, gardening, job referrals, scholarships, health and wellness, and a variety of youth and senior activities. Hubbard Place shares a community garden with Urban Village Apartments, a neighbor.