Monday, September 20, 2010

Summit at St. Martin's Apartments: an Eckington resident comments

I am cross-posting this item from the Eckington list by "k3n4kevin" regarding the not-yet-opened Summit at St. Martin's Apartments.

I recall reading that all tenats at the Summit are required to be Housing Choice Voucher holders (Section 8). I am not sure if that is true. Perhaps someone could confirm.

Some area residents are supportive of the St. Martin's Apartment project and others oppose it.

From k3n4kevin:

First, we were told affordable apartments were needed because supposedly Eckington was about to be glutted with "luxury" apartments. The community agreed to allow the zoning change, the apartments were built, and they're now being advertised as "affordable luxury apartments".

Don't expect much from the "photo gallery". The exteriors are only shown as architectural drawings. There are a few interior photos, but they are more appropriate for a home furnishing store. One looks like a stock photo of a law library.

With a heavy hand, "Our Location" portrays the developer as a psychic descendant of Joseph Gales and the complex as a parallel of Eckington's historical rowhouses.

Under "Our Community" is only a list of complex "amenities" (this word is heavily utilized), so presumably the "community" stops at the property line.

Eckington residents who thought this large building would overshadow not only the surrounding century old rowhouses, but even McKinley High School - the landmark Eckington has been known by during most of that century - won't be surprised to see the line referring to "hill top residences".

This $28 million dollar project, whose apartments cost an estimated $200/sf, was partially funded by DC taxpayers. It has been extolled by The Washington Post as an example of the kind of public-private partnerships we need more of.

Now, having brought all this up, I will undoubtedly be immediately condemned as racist and anti-affordable housing. That is an underhanded attempt to silence people who question the motives and tactics of public-private partnership principals/advocates, of
large-scale developers, of institutional religious charitable organizations, and of anyone who thinks creating a homogenous socio-economic block of ANY kind is a good idea.

I don't care what color or income bracket my neighbors are, and I think most Eckingtonians feel likewise. But we are too easily manipulated. We can counter charges of racism and classism by demonstrating in our everyday actions just how racist and classist we AREN'T. And we can fight like hell to keep people from looting "the only remaining pool of dumb, unguarded capital left to feed upon: taxpayer money".

The Summit at St. Martin's: "Brand new affordable luxury apartments"

"Not just an apartment. A residence with all the conveniences and services for carefree living.
All the quality touches for gracious living.
All the community facilities & amenities for more than just living space.
And all at truly affordable rental rates.*
Moving up was never easier.

Call 202-526-0060 for all the pleasant surprises.
Welcome aboard.

*To insure affordability, maximum income and rent levels apply"

To see the floor plans of this busy warren and its shaft of totally enclosed 'green space' (a term that got lost somewhere along the way) check out:

To attend the "Gala Preview Showing", you must ask for a "Guest Card" - which is obviously meant for potential tenants:


Anonymous said...

This allows Harry "Tommy" Thomas Jr. to bolster his base in Ward 5.

Jus' keepin' it real...

Anonymous said...

First this doesn't appear to be section 8 housing, or really evn "affordable" housing. The income minimums and maximums, and the fact that these are only 1 or 2 bedrooms show that this buildout is more for single people, or maybe small families.

At most a lot of young professionals, non-profit types, and teachers could live here.

If this is truly supposed to be mixed income, or affordable, allot a specific # of units for each income level. As far as I can tell, no one who makes $20,000 a year would be able to live here, and no one who makes $50,000 a year would be able to live here.

This doesn't make sense people. Use your brain. Just another development for the "middle of the road"

Kris said...

@Anonymous10:09-- I believe that a housing voucher can be used to subsidize the "minimum" income requirements. So it would appear that someone making $12,000 could live in an apartment if they have a government housing voucher. And these may be two-bedroom apartments, but the income requirement scale released by St. Martin's suggests that 7 people could be permitted to live in one of these apartments.

stephen said...

I still say that the 5, 6 and 7 people in the two bedroom (much less the 630 sqft ONE bedroom) is illegal. I'm not familiar enough with the building codes here, but its certainly below the minimum occupancy calculation for most states.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're pretty racist, classist, and elitist if you oppose this.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty easy to find the DC housing code and occupancy requirements online. I don't see how listing the income cap for a 7 person household implies that the units will be rented to a 7 person household.

402.1 Each dwelling unit shall contain the following minimum amount of floor area in order to comply with the occupancy requirements of this subtitle:
At least one hundred thirty square feet (130 ft2) of floor area in habitable rooms for the first occupant of the dwelling unit;
At least ninety square feet (90 ft2) of additional floor area in habitable rooms for each additional occupant of the dwelling unit up to a total of seven (7) occupants; and
At least seventy-five square feet (75 ft2) of additional floor area in habitable rooms for each additional occupant of the dwelling unit if the dwelling unit is to be occupied by more than seven (7) persons.

402.2 Each room used for sleeping purposes by not more than one (1) occupant shall be a habitable room containing at least seventy square feet (70 ft2) of habitable room area.
402.3 Each room used for sleeping by two (2) or more occupants shall be a habitable room containing at least fifty square feet (50 ft2) of habitable room area for each occupant.
402.4 No sleeping facilities shall be permitted in any room in which there is located any of the following:
A furnace;
A space heater using an open flame, unless that space heater is effectively flue connected;
A domestic water heater; or
A gas meter.

SOURCE: The Housing Regulations of the District of Columbia, 5G DCRR I§2305, 2306, C.O. 55-1503 (August 11, 1955).

Anonymous said...

I'm not opposing it - I'm trying to make sure they not EXPLOITING PEOPLE. They are setting minimum and maximums for income that result in an extremely tight range of Rent-to-Income, and publishing figures on these for occupancy that is illegal, dangerous and would result in terrible living conditions.

These people took in enormous amounts of funding from the public to build a massive building in our neighborhood. It's the public's responsibility to make sure that the money was spent in a way that actually, holy shit, results in people being helped. Shaving 300$ off normal rents and enforcing 60% median income caps leads me to believe that's not the case.

N St. NW said...

It is HUD rules that set the maximum income caps (as well as the maximum rent levels), not the developer. And the income bands are generally about $10,000+, which is quite wide as most affordable properties go.

As stated above, folks with vouchers do not need to earn the minimum income. There has historically been a shortage of housing units in DC that will 1) accept vouchers and 2) have rents at a level that are low enough for the vouchers to be used. This property will likely have a large number of voucher holders (rent and income limits will be at a level that the vouchers will be accepted) and will be a much higher quality of housing unit than most tenants could otherwise find with a voucher.

It is silly to be outraged at the developer's site marketing the property. It is a marketing piece. Of course they are going to play up what they see as the most desirable features of the property.

wrECK said...

Sigh. People still think this is about racism, classism, etc.

Isn't anybody concerned about using public resources to subsidize housing that cost $200/sf to build - regardless of what it's for? No sane individual would pay this inflated amount! What happens to all that extra money?

Isn't anybody worried that an economically homogenous group is being segregated in a giant, walled-off hive? And that this concept is supported via our tax dollars? Though experts agree, it doesn't take one to realize this is unhealthy for the neighborhood. It would be equally bad if the housing were only for rich people.

Isn't anybody worried that, even now, no one recognizes this for what it was: a complicated scheme meant to guarantee, right up front, that a lot of money would go to a tiny group of people? And that these people didn't give a damn about the future tenants ... OR the community, OR the taxpayers of DC? It was a scam motivated by greed, pure and simple - and unconscionable greed at that.

Isn't anybody worried that even with all this information available, people stubbornly refuse to stretch their brains? That they're too chickenshit to budge from their deep mental ruts and consider the big picture?

I say we finally face it: easy access to information is a bad thing. People substitute it for knowledge, just like they substitute cheap sex for love.

Anonymous said...

Folks, I can see both sides of the coin...It must be infuriating for current neighborhood residents to feel like the public-private dollars invested in "affordable housing" for community revitalization are potentially being exploited and swindled for personal gain by a small group of wealthy people who could care less about the issues of racism, classism & other aspects of diversity and economic development. This so-called "affordable housing" concept is screwing so many of us out of anything even remotely affordable, habitable or diverse. I am one of the few folks who currently fit in that very narrow criteria--a single, educator who currently makes more than the minimum and less than the maximum income required. The rents at most of these "luxury buildings" that participate in the program are are still unreasonable given the fact that I still have other expenses that eat at my very modest paycheck as well. It really isn't designed to help very many people which I'm sure is probably the point for some of the greedy, wealthy investors. That being said, I was grateful to find out about the Summit at St. Martin's, thinking that maybe it could possibly be the "happy medium" I've been searching for. However, now I'm beginning to wonder if by living there I'd be moving into the midst of a hot bed of mutual resentment, turf wars and be a potential target for long-standing, outspoken and/or disgruntled Eckington residents who assume that Summit residents will be elitist, segregationalist and uninterested in the community's cooperative well-being, positive development and self-sufficiency. I'm not trying to sound snide, I just really would like your suggestions on how can neighbors, new and long-term, really work together (not just argue at community forums) to find a way to genuinely nurture healthy community relations while trying to ensure that our government reps and real estate developers use our DC tax dollars in ways that better support the affordable, sustainable growth of our communities?