The SWAT team, the overdose, the complaints of pot smoke in the air and feces in the stairwell — it would be hard to pinpoint a moment when things took a turn for the worse at Sedgwick Gardens, a stately apartment building in Northwest Washington.
But the Art Deco complex, which overlooks Rock Creek Park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is today the troubled locus of a debate on housing policy in a city struggling with the twin crises of homelessness and gentrification.
Located in affluent Cleveland Park and designed by Mihran Mesrobian — the prewar architect behind such Washington landmarks as the Hay-Adams Hotel — Sedgwick Gardens was once out of reach for low-income District residents.
That changed two years ago, when D.C. housing officials dramatically increased the value of rental subsidies. The goal was to give tenants who had previously clustered in impoverished, high-crime areas east of the Anacostia River a shot at living in more desirable neighborhoods.
Milwaukee is going to try the same thing, only harder: Downtown apartment tower would include affordable units — and the city Housing Authority as developer:
A new $150 million downtown Milwaukee apartment high-rise would have an unusual feature: a large number of units with affordable, below-market rents.
Perhaps even more unusual is the developer — the city Housing Authority.
The proposal, which would redefine Milwaukee’s public housing scene, was unveiled Wednesday.
“It will allow us to change the narrative,” said M. Joseph Donald, a Housing Authority board member.
The 32-story building would have around 315 to 350 apartments, as well as 43,000 square feet of office space. Its conceptual plans call for a swimming pool, fitness center and other amenities typically found in upscale high-rises.
Anyone want to bet that it’s a different outcome? I wonder if the people behind this program would even take the bet.