Wait til you see what is planned at site of historic Richmond church founded in 1855

Robertson: 'It's designed so that a family doesn't ever have to pay more than 30% of their income for housing'
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Posted at 6:04 PM, May 04, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- A tower of bricks and white window frame: It's the last standing piece of the historic Mizpah Presbyterian Church, started in 1855, now sitting among dust and dirt in the middle of a construction site off Brookland Park Boulevard.

Edward Harris watches the bulldozers work from across the street.

"I ain't mad at it, I ain't mad at it at all. I'm glad they're getting them like this," he said.

What's left of the church will be part of a new affordable housing complex called Brookland Park Apartments, similar to Harri's apartment complex, Highland Park Senior Apartments.

According to a project description provided by Enterprise Community Development, the development will feature 66 new, affordable apartments built to the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Homes and Enterprise Green Communities standards. The four-story complex will feature one, two, and three-bedroom apartments serving families from 40% to 60% annual median income.

"It's designed so that a family doesn't ever have to pay more than 30% of their income for housing," said Richmond Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, who was part of the planning process. "It doesn't mean that there's a lack of investment and quality in the process."

On Thursday, those behind the apartment's planning process broke ground on the new site. The project, which has been in the works since 2016, saw a number of challenges over the years.

"We've confronted a global pandemic. We've had supply chain challenges. We've had a spike in interest rates, all the things that makes this kind of work, which is already a little bit hard, like diving off the high dive and doing three twists, and still, making a very tiny splash," said Rob Fossi, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Community Development.

Robertson said the investment in the affordable housing units not only helps address the city's affordable housing crisis, but also could help revitalize the economic area in the Highland Park neighborhood.

"It has a tremendous ripple, economic, social, impact when we do this scale of development in our neighborhoods," Robertson said.

The complex is expected to be completed in about two years, nearly 140 years after the original church was built.

Harris welcomes the change.

"I'm glad to see it," Harris said.

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