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New London - A Maryland-based investment group announced Thursday its intention to pump $1.6 million into the rehabilitation of Huntington Towers, a three-decade-old downtown building with 120 affordable apartments for seniors and the disabled.
Enterprise Community Investment Inc., a Columbia, Md., nonprofit that focuses on affordable housing nationwide, said its equity investment in the five-story apartment building was done in partnership with Leon N. Weiner & Associates Inc., a Delaware company that built Huntington Towers at 149 Huntington St. and has operated the high-rise apartment through its associated firm, Arbor Management, since 1983. The two firms will be co-owners of the apartment complex, with Weiner running the day-to-day operations.
Chris Herrmann, senior director for Enterprise, said in a phone interview that a total of at least $2 million - including some money from the original developer - will be going into improvements at the 10,000-square-foot housing complex starting in April. Upgrades, financed through Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital and PNC Bank along with the partners, will focus on new energy-efficient windows, modern boilers, an improved air conditioning system, kitchen makeovers and parking-area improvements.
The project is also partially funded by a Section 8 housing contract.
"It's a strategic investment to bring down costs," Herrman said. "We can't really raise rents."
In fact, Enterprise's mission is to provide more opportunities for affordable housing throughout the country. The project in New London is the first in a series of investments Enterprise is making to upgrade facilities at affordable-housing complexes, with another also underway in Northglenn, Colo.
"The national inventory of affordable and workforce rental housing is at risk of being lost to physical deterioration or conversion to higher market rates," said Raoul Moore, senior vice president of syndication at Enterprise, in a statement. "Creating new tools for preserving affordable rental properties is vital to the long-term strength and diversity of our neighborhoods."
"It's a new program for us," Herrman said. "Huntington Towers is our first investment through the program."
Huntington Towers offers only one-bedroom apartments for seniors getting Section 8 housing assistance, which caps costs at 30 percent of income. Residents get such services as home health care, flu shots, legal aid, financial counseling, food pantry access and recreational programs at no cost through an on-site coordinator.
Section 8 vouchers allow people earning up to 60 percent of the region's median income to afford rent with the help of a federal subsidy.