One historic Westside Wilmington neighborhood is undergoing a big transformation.
A multi-phase affordable housing project called The Flats is replacing functionally obsolete housing units with brand new homes.
Phase one of the project is now complete – with 72 units constructed. Donna Gooden with Woodlawn Trustees says all of those units have been leased.
“We’re told by HDC who is responsible for the lease up, that there’s a 3-4 year waiting list for this phase to get in," Gooden said.
The townhomes are being built to match the existing architecture of the original, historic homes built by William Bancroft for area workers in the days of Bancroft Mills. In 1901, established Woodlawn Trustees to continue managing the land and homes surrounding tree-lined Bancroft Parkway.
Bancroft’s legacy continues with the Flats project, creating hundreds of affordable housing units that match Bancroft’s original style and spirit for local residents like Chrissy Childs.
"It’s so bright and cheery in my apartment," Childs said. "I never use lights during the day, I open up my windows in the morning and my blinds, my plants are just thriving, my plants are in the windows and they’re just going crazy…"
Childs has lived in Wilmington all her life – but after the sudden death of her husband in 2014, she realized she wouldn’t be able to continue living in her Woodlawn home.
She also became a single mom, supporting her 13-year-old son Deric along with handling her own disabilities.
“I had a lot of people say to me, well why would you want to live in subsidized housing? You know, they have a bad reputation," Childs said. "And I said, well, when you’re on social security you kind of live paycheck to paycheck and you have to live where you can afford it.”
She used to stand on her porch and watch the new construction of the Flats, but never thought she’d be able to live there.
But after nearly two years of paperwork, Chrissy and her son moved into one of the brand new townhomes last September. Now, she couldn’t be happier.
“Granted, I’ll never be able to buy a home being a single parent, but this was the next best thing, that’s what was great," Childs said. "Everything was brand new, nobody else had lived her, so it was kind of like having a house built for me.”
Now – construction is underway for the second phase of the project, building another 72 units nearby. Those units should be completed by next summer, but the entire project includes several additional phases and a total price tag of over $100 million. Once complete, the Flats will create over 400 affordable housing units.
The project is being financed by several different groups: HDC, Cinnaire, FHLBank Pittsburgh and others.
President and CEO of HDC MidAtlantic Michael Carper says phase one was funded in large part by low-income tax credits granted by the Delaware State Housing Authority, which they're applying for again for the third phase.
"The second phase we used a more complex form of tax credit financing," Carper said. He said that involved tax-exempt multi-family bonds and 4% tax credits.