D.C. Housing Authority Executive Director Adrianne Todman joined city officials and residents in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly refurbished Gibson Plaza Apartments in the Shaw neighborhood this week.
The three-year, more than $30 million project, preserved some 195 units of affordable housing within the building.
The ribbon-cutting event “gives homage to that commitment, to that hard work, to keep families that live in D.C. here in D.C.,” Todman told the crowd.
DCHA provided a loan of almost $7 million to help fund the construction and to help retrofit many units for disabled and elderly tenants. The Authority will continue to fund about $567,000 annually, helping to supplement 73 families’ rent, Todman said.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray applauded the project for making nearly 90 percent of the total 217 apartments affordable for “those who have paved the way and those who have given of themselves” to make the District the city it is today.
“That is what we are trying to do in the city,” the mayor said, making sure “people who want to live in the city have a place to live.”
The Gibson Plaza Apartments were first built in 1972 under the guidance of the late Rev. Ernest R. Gibson, also the namesake, and the congregation of the First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church, said Deacon Harold J. Gilliard, president of the church’s housing corporation.
The project included façade improvements, new doorways, windows, fixtures, flooring, asbestos removal, an elevator, and a security fence. All of the residents’ homes were refurbished and kitchens and bathrooms were updated. Plus new amenities, like a gym and computer room were added. A new energy-efficient heating and cooling system, lighting and a solar-paneled roof were among the many environmentally sound upgrades. Rose bushes, magnolia trees and other greenery were added to not only beautify the site, but to aid in proper rainwater drainage. The energy efficiencies and plantings will be highlighted in the housing corporation’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification application, Gilliard said.
Marous Brothers Construction helped Gilliard and the residents start the design and build process three years ago when no bank would give the First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church Housing Corporation a loan, Gilliard said.
And it is a source of company pride, said Christopher Auvil, Marous Brothers’ Construction Design Director.Gibson Plaza “residents are an integral part of this community,” Auvil said. “They have been for years and will be for years to come.”
Barbara Curtis, a 25-year resident and president of the tenant association, said she and her neighbors –some who have lived in the tower since it was first opened in the 1970s—“have waited a long time for this.”
“Everybody that helped us, we want to thank you again and again and again,” she said.