West Side Community Land Trust is moving forward in building 120 units of affordable senior living thanks to a $600,000 grant from Bank of America.
The site of the project, known as Carr Heights, is also a special place in West End history.
“We’ll be able to preserve the rich history of the area,” said Charis Blackmon, executive director of West Side Community Land Trust (CLT).
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Carr Heights, named after Nathaniel Carr and his wife Lizzie, was the first subdivision to be placed along the West Boulevard corridor. The 20-plus acres, purchased in 1927, included land for the historic Shiloh Baptist Church.
The $1.1 million property will provide 4.54 acres of housing for individuals aged 55 and up with one and two-bedroom units ranging from $474 and $1516 monthly. The land, purchased by the CLT, is on a 99-plus year lease to PACES Soho, ensuring affordability in perpetuity.
West Side CLT’s mission is to empower and promote homeownership to residents of the Historic West End by providing permanently affordable housing. The Nathaniel Carr project is part of West Side CLT’s mission in combatting gentrification on the West End.
“It means we put a stake here and offset the impacts of displacement,” said Rickey Hall, former board chair of the West Side CLT and president of the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition.
“It’s a good thing, and it’s a path forward.”
The $28 million project also boasts designs made in collaboration with community members like Brenda Campbell, who emphasized that although the units are affordable, they can still be stylish. Her main rule: “no white walls.”
Campbell is a self-described leader of the West Boulevard community and runs a childcare business. As an elder of the community, she felt it was her responsibility to get involved with the project.
“I felt like, if not me, then who?”
Campbell stressed the necessity of providing for the community’s elderly. She compares the neighboring communities to the West End.
“They need a pharmacy – we don’t have that here. They need a grocery store – we don’t have that.”
For lifelong residents like Campbell and Hall, the project is a solution to the rampant displacement.
“We need to show that we care about them, we love them, and that they can stay in the community if they choose to.”
This project is historic for another reason: this is West Side CLT’s first partnership with Bank of America. It’s also the largest investment the CLT has received.
Jenny Ward, community relations manager for Bank of America, also feels fortunate to be a part of the project.
“Bank of America has been investing in affordable housing for decades,” she said. “The land trust model makes sense because it’s community centered and community led.” Partnering with a community land trust also got the attention of the national office, which Ward says will hopefully lead to more partnerships with land trusts nationwide.
“This is a catalytic project,” said Blackmon. “We had a goal of providing 50 permanently affordable housing units by 2023, and with this, we’ll be able to meet and exceed that goal.”
Construction of the apartments is projected to start in September of next year.