Housing Complex

Wheeler Terrace’s $32 Million Eco-Friendly Facelift

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Wheeler Terrace, a 113-unit affordable apartment community in Washington Highlands, is receiving a $32 million green facelift. The Washington Business Journal wrote about the project a few months ago, and now an affordable housing trade publication has zeroed in on the venture.

In late 2007, the Community Preservation and Development Corp. (CPDC) worked with residents to purchase the property, which will apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification later this year, according to the trade publication's, Affordable Housing Finance, story.

Here's more from the piece:

Wheeler will meet and exceed Washington, D.C.’s new standards for sustainable design, even though they were not yet mandatory when the developer started the rehab. The standards are based on the Green Communities criteria created by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. CPDC accepted a $50,000 grant from Enterprise.

To pay for the $32 million renovation, CPDC took out an $8.1 million tax-exempt bond mortgage from Union Bank of California. The interest rate on the 40-year loan is fixed for 15 years at 5.6 percent with a swap contract.

Then CPDC decided to up the ante again by seeking LEED certification. Meeting those standards is especially difficult for a complex of old, drafty, water-damaged buildings. CPDC will tear sheet rock from apartment walls to add wider studs and two to three inches of extra insulation to the exterior. CPDC will install energy-efficient windows and Energy Star-rated appliances. Geothermal wells will help the new heat pumps that heat and cool individual units to run more efficiently on frigid days. One of the seven buildings will even have a green roof.

The deep renovation will cost $131,000 per unit in hard construction costs. That’s still cheap compared with the estimated $160,000 to $170,000 per unit it would have cost to demolish and build new apartments on the site, according to CPDC.

The green features at Wheeler Terrace with pay for themselves within 10 years, according to CPDC’s energy audit of the property. CPDC will benefi t from lower costs to heat and light the common areas, which will use 25 percent less energy. Residents and the federal government also will immediately benefit from lower utility bills, since residents pay for their own electric and heat, with help from a stipend from the government.