Construction on the Monsignor Romero (Deauville) Building at 3145 Mt Pleasant Street Expected to Begin in March 2013

Council Member Jim Graham updates the community on the future Monsignor Romero building in Mt. Pleasant:

Excellent news. The DC gov has approved the tax credit application for the Monsignor Romero building at 3145 Mt Pleasant Street. It has been a very long haul, but this tenant owned building is soon on its way to rehabilitation in service to very low income people. A victory for the tenants, the National Housing Trust and everyone who had faith that this could and would work.

A reader asked him when construction was slated to begin and he replied:

The city gets to allocate Federal resources (Low Income Housing Tax Credits or LIHTC) to help build or redevelop affordable housing. Those federal tax credits allow organizations (in this case, the National Housing Trust) to attract private investors to invest money so that they can rebuild the Monsignor Romero building. For about every dollar in tax credits, a project such as this is able to generate about $10 in private funding.

Almost equally important, without these credits, this project would not have been feasible.

To answer your question as to when the work will start, NHT has to work through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s normal processes, but expect construction to begin in March 2013.

38 Comment

  • Excellent news for MtP residents–removing that blight from our mainstreet will be a huge improvement. When they say it’s “tenant-owned,” what does that mean? Affordable co-ops? Low income rentals, supported by the tenant association? anyone know?

    • It means it was a standard rental. It burned down. DC then spent millions of dollars started subsidizing each residents monthly rent for the next 4 years, to the tune of 22K per unit so they could continue to rent in expensive upscale locations rather than doing what normal folks do when they can’t afford the rent in their desired neighborhood, look elsewhere. Half of the former residents weren’t legal US citizens to begin with and took that money home with them when they left the District.

      Then the remaining former residents decided they wanted to buy the property, rather than letting the actual owner sell it on the open market to someone years ago who would have had it renovated they, using what have to be the most ridiculous laws on the books (hey, DC is over the top renter friendly), they forced the owner to sell to them at a substantial discount, using free money they got from “shocker” the District of Columbia.

      So after demanding millions more from the District government to get Construction started, here we are.

      So the answer is, the former renters now own the building. It will be turned into co ops where you will have to meet some threshold on income to buy.

      • +100

        I think DC got this way cause it’s population for several decades was largely poor, and their reps crafted a bunch of laws to make the government subsidize them. Where that money was supposed to come from is beyond me and probably them. Everyone simply lived off the fat of DC’s few taxpayers. It reminds me of that city law put into affect by the city that says that DC must pay for shelter in hotels for the homeless when the temperature drops below a certain degree. Each year, it costs the city millions of dollars and likely draws the homeless from VA and MD, which should be shouldering some of the costs for social services.

      • “Half of the former residents weren’t legal US citizens to begin with and took that money home with them when they left the District.”

        And you know this how?

        • Cause I was one of them.

        • Wash Post did an article on this building back in Jan/Feb of this year. Pretty shocking stuff really.

          • By saying the residents “weren’t legal US citizens,” you seem to be conflating several different statuses: citizen, legal permanent resident, and illegal/undocumented. I re-read the Post article, and nowhere does it state or even imply that the most of the building’s residents were not “legal.” It simply mentions that some former tenants returned to Mexico, El Salvador, etc. Those individuals who returned to other countries could have been foreign-born US citizens who returned to a home country, or legal permanent residents who did so. It’s one thing to disagree rationally and on a policy level with affordable housing development and subsidies; it’s another thing to use judgmental and un-necessarily disparaging conjecture to make a point.

  • If so much as a single brick is layed by 3/31/13, I’ll be shocked and amazed.

  • I have to admit, after many years of nothing, my reaction is: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That said, this sounds like wonderful news and I am cautiously optimistic.

  • Jim Graham is a blowhard, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re here in April and June and July 2013 wondering again what’s up with the blight.

  • I wish I could sell this promise short

  • This is very far from excellent news. Mt. Pleasant would have been a lot better off if what remained of the “building” had been sold off to developers years ago. Why should the former renters get to move back after years of having ridiculous rents paid for with our tax dollars? The city could and should have just bought them apartments somewhere else and saved us all a lot of money. A total waste of my taxes.

    • I think Mt. P is better off by retaining some affordable housing, and not sending slumlords the message that demolition by neglect and letting your building burn down makes it easy to turn over.

      • Cool. then feel free to go give these poor people some of your money if it’s so important to you. But please leave the rest of us (or at least me) out of it.

        • I moved to Mount Pleasant because it is economically diverse and am pleased this will return to affordable housing. It was heartbreaking to see the famlies there flee the morning of the fire.

  • Wow. Between this, the library reopening, and the new Thai restaurant, I can’t help but feel optimistic about our little neighborhood.

  • Very nice.

    But I do echo the sentiments of believe it when I see it on 3/2013 construction.

  • And to those who are disappointed that tax dollars are being used to subsidize housing for poor people, I’m sure the IRS will gladly accept a check from you for the amount that they subsidize your house through the mortgage interest tax deduction.

  • joker,

    If your question is whether there is a societal benefit to subsidizing your rent in Chevy Chase, the answer is, of course, no. The problem of course, is in your trying to project moral equivalence between helping the poor and helping you live in Chevy Chase. If you honestly don’t see the distinction, then we really have nothing more to argue about.

    • And you are missing the point by equivocating “destitute” with lower income people.

      I am all for building all the shelters and soup kitchens one wants to build. But these people weren’t jobless and homeless, they just made less money than you. All of us make less money than our peers at various points in our lives. That doesn’t mean the gov steps in and subsidizes your rent. It means you move to a cheaper neighborhood, tighten your finances or get another job. it means you shop at Costco rather than whole foods.

      I can virtually guarantee you make less money than I do. That doesn’t make you poor, nor does it make it valid that I subsidize your rent for 4 years because you want toive in Georgetown and you can only afford Petworth.

      I can also promise you that if I was living in El Salvador illegally and my apt burned down, the Salvadorean gov wouldn’t be cutting me monthly checks for 500 dollars to subsidize my rent.

      • You forgot to suggest that they borrow money from their parents. You honestly appear to have no clue about how the working poor live in this country. What kind of life do you think an immigrant washing dishes for minimum wage can expect to have in this city? After paying FICA and sending money back home, I would be amazed if they lived above the poverty guidelines. But hey, at least they’re not living in cardboard boxes. They’re living the dream!

        And BTW, it’s “equate,” not “equivocate.” Take all of that money you make and go buy a dictionary.

  • You know all these great new restaurants we have now? They all require dishwashers. Dishwashers are never going to make enough money to rent a modest apartment within an hour’s travel time of their work – unless, (as is common,) they share with 6-8 people in some basement or dilapidated old house.

    I think even Joker would agree that there is a need for the govt. (i.e. us, with our tax dollars) to play a role in assuring there is decent housing available in an expensive market for those doing essential, but low-paying work. But everyone should be outraged over the way this particular situation with this building was handled.

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