The Walter IM Hodge Pavilion housing community in St. Croix — badly damaged by the 2017 hurricanes — is set for a $116.7 million rehabilitation.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Tuesday that its Office of Multifamily Housing and the VI Housing Authority have completed a transaction to fund the rehabilitation of the 248-unit community in Frederiksted under the Housing Assistance Demonstration Program. HUD rental.
According to Government House, which will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Friday at 10 a.m., it will preserve affordability for residents, modernize the development and strengthen the site’s resilience to natural disasters.
The government is partnering with New York real estate firm MDG Design + Construction for the project. According to its website, the company builds and manages high-quality affordable housing and is an expert in property management, construction, development and design.
The Walter IM Hodge Pavilion, built in 1971, comprises 20 residential buildings and one community building. As part of the conversion, the property will change from public housing to assisted rental based on the Section 8 project, HUD said.
When complete, the community will be owned by Walter IM Hodge RAD LLC and MDG Development Owners LLC, with the land being leased to Virgin Islands Housing Authority, according to HUD.
Flying debris and flooding during Hurricanes Irma and Maria left 58% of homes vacant, HUD said. According to Tuesday’s announcement, the buildings will be reinforced against future storms, and landscaping and site plan improvements will naturally protect against water intrusion and damage.
Resilience upgrades include strengthening the roof and shear walls to withstand hurricane winds, hurricane-resistant doors and windows, and aluminum louver systems, HUD said. “Partially underground power lines will reduce the risk of power outages, and backup generators will provide essential power in the event of an outage. An existing cistern system will be upgraded to capture and treat rainwater, and solar panels will be installed, allowing the buildings to efficiently harness and conserve natural resources. The site will also be transformed through beautification measures and improved community spaces,” the statement said.
The buildings will be upgraded by replacing most major systems, upgrading site amenities and incorporating materials and design principles for greening and climate resilience, HUD said. The units will include new apartment bathroom and kitchen interiors, asbestos and lead reduction, and additional measures to conserve resources, improve hazard resilience and reduce utility costs, a he declared.
The project is the first in the Housing Authority’s long-term plan to refurbish and rebuild its portfolio of affordable housing across USVI, Government House said. According to HUD, the need is great in Sainte-Croix, with an existing waiting list of more than 764 families.
Through the RAD program, projects funded through the public housing program convert their public housing assistance to project-based Section 8 rental assistance, HUD said. Under Section 8, residents continue to pay 30% of their income for rent, and housing must continue to serve those with very low and extremely low incomes.
Residents must be informed and consulted before conversion and have the right to return to supported housing after construction so that the same tenants can enjoy the newly preserved and improved apartments and retain the same basic rights they had as residents social housing, according to HUD.
The department said the RAD transaction includes a construction budget of $73.3 million ($295,000 per unit) funded entirely by: equity funding from the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; commercial construction financing from the Merchant Bank of Indiana; Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Funding; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Public Assistance Program.