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2019 Project Insights: Bowman Housing for Veterans, a Pro Bono Story

Feb 07, 2019


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After years of ongoing redevelopment efforts, a blighted property in Annapolis, MD, is being transformed into a vibrant affordable housing community for Veterans. Pennrose spearheaded the development team and is working on a pro-bono basis to ensure the project is a success. To learn more about what this transformative project means to the community, we sat down with Regional Vice President Ivy Dench-Carter and Developer Patrick Bateman.

To get started, can you tell us a little about Bowman Housing for Veterans?

PB: Bowman Housing for Veterans is a high-quality affordable housing community in Annapolis, Maryland. It’s a very exciting project, because The First Baptist Church of Annapolis and the Bowman Community Development Corporation (BCDC) have been working for years to develop the blighted property at 61 W. Washington Street into a project that benefitted the veteran community.

Once we signed on as the development partner, we realized we needed to be creative, if the project was to move forward. We worked closely with the First Baptist Church, The City of Annapolis, and State of Maryland to formulate a development plan and assemble financing sources for the project. We also formed a design and development team that was willing to work on a pro bono or reduced fee-basis. It is truly a collaborative team effort.

Once completed, the project will provide six affordable, one-bedroom apartments designed to look like townhomes, dedicated specifically for Veteran housing. One of the units will be ADA accessible and all ground-floor units will be visitable. It will also be built to achieve National Green Building Standard and Energy Star Certifications, which is a huge asset to residents.

It sounds like Bowman is going to be great for the community. How did Pennrose become involved in the initiative?

IDC: The First Baptist Church of Annapolis pastor, Reverend Boston, is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, so serving Veterans is a very important mission of the Church. As Patrick mentioned, The Church and the BCDC have been trying for years to develop the property and they had a shared vision to create much-needed affordable Veteran housing.

When the groups were struggling to make progress on the redevelopment, the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Mike Busch and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) became involved to help move it along. Because the BCDC naturally doesn’t have a development background, Pennrose was eventually asked by Speaker Busch and DHCD to serve as the development partner.

Was Pennrose asked to work on a pro bono basis? What about the other members of the development team?

PB: Not at all. Pennrose was initially approached as one of Maryland’s trusted affordable housing developers to help. But when we started to really crunch the numbers, it became clear that the financing available was going to fall short. This development was going to be a tremendous benefit to the local community, and to the Obery Court/College Creek redevelopment two blocks away that was developed by Pennrose, so it was worthwhile for us to waive our developer free and work pro bono.

Luckily, we work with many amazing partners on a day-to-day basis who agreed to work on a pro bono or reduced-rate basis to make Bowman a reality. Our legal counsel, Ballard Spahr, agreed to work on the project pro bono. Hamel Builders, civil engineering firm CPJ Associates, and WRT, an architect we have been working with for over 20 years, also generously reduced their fees and donated time and resources towards Bowman. The Housing Authority of Anne Arundel County generously provided the Project Based Section 8 Vouchers to make the units affordable for the veterans. 

Why was it so important to focus on Veterans for this project?

IDC: Not only is Annapolis home to the U.S. Naval Academy, but the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that about 51,000 Veterans reside in the Annapolis area. This population is hugely important to the fabric of the city. Unfortunately, Veterans are often one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to finding quality, affordable housing.

Pennrose is proud to work with the Church and the Bowman Community Development Corporation to support our nation’s heroes and help address this need by building a vibrant community for Veterans to call home. 

Bowman Housing for Veterans broke ground in December 2018 and is currently under construction.  Learn more about Pennrose’s commitment to Veterans housing here.