Green Apartments Open

Green Apartments Open BLADENSBURG, MD - Affordable senior housing doesn't normally conjure up images of Nintendo Wiis, Apple computer labs and customized art adorning walls, but county and state officials say the newly opened Newton Green apartment building is a model for affordable senior living for the rest of Prince George's County.

The environmentally friendly building in Bladensburg celebrated its grand opening April 23. The $11 million project was paid for with a number of federal grants and low-interest state, county and private loans.

"It's something we wish we had for the whole county, for all seniors to live in a place like this," County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) said during the dedication.

Hyattsville-based Housing Initiative Partnership, a nonprofit developer, partnered with New Jersey-based builders Ingerman Group in the project. It was paid for with $8 million in federal low-income housing tax credits distributed by the state and low-interest loans of $1.5 million from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and $650,000 from Prince George's County, said Geoffrey Long, an Ingerman Group associate. The remaining cost was paid by a private loan.

Aside from Newton Green, DHCD has financed 15 senior housing projects in the county, and the most recent of which, Fort Washington Manor Senior Housing, opened in September 2007.

According to DHCD director of multifamily housing Patricia Rynn Sylvester, Newton Green is likely the best example of energy-efficient senior housing in the county. Hyattsville's Renaissance Square Artists Housing, also a HIP project, has "strong green features," Sylvester wrote in an e-mail.

Bladensburg annexed the property at 5300 Newton St. in June 2008. The units rent from $315 to $895 a month for individuals with a $20,650 to $41,340 yearly income. Leases are signed on more than 50 of the building's 78 apartments, said Ingerman Group marketing director Jason Battestelli.

The building has some "green" features, like a permeable brick wall that controls storm water running off the parking lot. The apartment is built to Energy Star standards, which includes using energy-efficient appliances and double-sealed windows, Battestelli said.

Some residents who moved in this month said senior citizens deserve nice accommodations at affordable rates.

"We've worked hard all our lives, and I think in this place we're getting what we deserve," said Bess Gary, an 81-year-old retired National Institutes of Health technical clerk.

Resident Grace Turner, 72, told the crowd gathered during the dedication ceremony that "this is our home, and I intend to make it my home until I go to be at home with the Lord."

In an interview, Turner said attention to details, such as the common area's custom ceramic tabletops made by local artists, made the building appealing to her.

"I think a lot of places just give us the bare necessities, but to give us special things, it makes me feel special," she said. "It makes me feel like this wasn't something thrown together to put old people in. They took some time and effort, even though we're seniors."

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