Delaware Builder Honored for Affordable Homeownership
A blighted public housing development in Wilmington, Del. that once saw high rates of violent crime and drug abuse has been revitalized through an innovative public-private partnership. The effort recently earned Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc., which redeveloped the property, a Readers Choice Award for “Best Affordable Homeownership” from Affordable Housing Finance magazine.
The original Eastlake public housing development of 267 brick rental units had become dilapidated despite the best efforts of the Wilmington Housing Authority. Violent crime and drug abuse grew to exceed some of the worst per capita crime rates in the nation, and Eastlake became known locally as “the Bucket.”
All of that changed when the developer and the housing authority formed a public-private partnership to revitalize the community.
“This citation is a testament to our firm’s dedication to the development, preservation and management of quality, affordable housing for all citizens,” said Kevin Kelly of Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc. “We are proud to carry on our namesake’s legacy to provide lower-cost housing opportunities that surpass both quality and cost expectations.”
Kelly and David Curtis, co-managing partners of the company, accepted the award during a ceremony in Chicago on Oct. 26.
“By working with the Wilmington Housing Authority as co-developers, we’ve ensured that we can successfully make a difference,” Curtis said. “We dramatically improved this community by razing all of the former public housing units and securing financing to rebuild 70 rental homes, a community center and 90 homeownership units, the majority of which are oriented toward parks and public, green space.”
Both the rental and homeownership units share a unified design using an array of roof profiles and exterior materials — a marked change from the monotonous lines of brick walls that stigmatized the former Eastlake as a low-income housing project.
“In addition to the housing itself, we also wanted to provide a variety of social services to the home owners and renters at the new Village of Eastlake,” Curtis said.
Free computer and karate classes are taught by volunteers two nights a week, and in the summer, management holds a free lunch program and arts and crafts programs that are open to Eastlake residents. Also in the summer, the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation conducts tutorial programs for the children.
The homeownership units at Eastlake have already had a positive impact on the community, Curtis said. The affordable nature of the homes, combined with the handsome overall design, has led to a diverse and dynamic influx of residents into the community, spawning a neighborhood resurgence. Two nearby subdivisions with a combined total of more than 100 for-sale homes are already underway.
For more information about Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc., click here.
To read the article about the award-winning Village of Eastlake in Affordable Housing Finance magazine, click here.