Affordable workforce housing coming to Frederick's old Goodwill building

September 18, 2018

 

For decades, Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley has operated a busy nonprofit from inside the walls of a historic building on East Church Street.

 

Now, as the organization prepares to move out of its longtime home, developers are stepping in to turn the structure into affordable rental apartments.

 

Jake Baum, the development manager for developer Hook Properties, classified the new apartments as workforce housing.

 

“Rising rents have made it difficult for many families and individuals in our communities to afford a place to live today,” Baum said via email on Friday. “Traditionally ‘workforce housing’ has meant housing for teachers, nurses, firefighters and law enforcement professionals. However, today the term encompasses a much broader group of working-class professionals who may make a solid income, but still cannot afford market-rate rents.”

 

Hook Properties, along with the architectural, planning and interior design firm Antunovich Associates and the civil engineering firm Harris, Smariga & Associates, are working together to bring the project to fruition.

 

Baum and Benjamin Keeney, a senior associate for Antunovich Associates, said developers plan to outfit the roughly 80,000-square-foot brick building at 400 E. Church St. to construct between 80 and 85 one-, two- and three-bedroom loft apartments ranging between 500 and 1,400 square feet.

 

The building was constructed in the 1890s and soon after, the Ox Fibre Brush Co. began manufacturing brushes inside the walls. The company continued operations until 1967, and Goodwill moved in two years later.

 

Baum and Keeney said they intend to preserve the historical integrity of the building as much as they can as they move forward with the development.

 

“The Ox Fibre building is one of the most iconic buildings in the city of Frederick and represents an important moment in the industrial history of the area,” Baum said in his email. “In setting out our vision for the space, we felt it was important to preserve many of the historic elements of the old factory, which was built over 120 years ago.”

 

Baum also said that developers are planning to apply for $11 million in historic preservation and affordable housing tax credits to offset some of the $30 million construction cost.

 

“The state of Maryland is provided with federal tax credits each year that can then be awarded to certain projects that provide a benefit to communities throughout the state, including affordable housing and historic building preservation,” Baum’s email said.

 

The credits will lead to lower rents, which he said should accommodate residents whose families earn approximately $36,000 to $64,000 annually, depending on unit and household sizes.

 

“By using federal and state tax credit programs, we can limit the rents that a high end new apartment building would otherwise charge so that it is affordable for those members of our community,” Baum said.

 

Besides interior work to the building, which Keeney said is deteriorating, developers also plan some exterior renovations. The project includes demolition of a loading dock and a shed in the rear, for which developers received approval on Thursday from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

 

The commission is involved because the building, which is not in the Frederick Town Historic District, has a historic preservation overlay that requires approval of exterior changes. The Board of Aldermen voted in 2016 to place the overlay on the building. Not long after, Goodwill put it up for sale and moved its warehouse operations to another site.

 

Luxury condos planned for vacant lot on Carroll Street

 

On an empty lot once slated for two duplexes at 126 S. Carroll St., architects with Lancaster Craftsman Builders are planning a six-unit condominium building.

 

The project is the final piece of a larger development that also includes five buildings facing South Carroll and East South streets that were completed in 2010.

 

After securing a blessing from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission on Thursday, Joe Hines, a designer with Lancaster, said if all goes as planned, construction of the new condos is set to begin in late fall.

 

He said builders are waiting for the final site plan to clear the Planning Commission in order to break ground. Construction should take 10 to 12 months to complete.

 

The new building will include six condominiums and an open, three-story lobby with elevator access. The units will have three bedrooms, and each one will have a separate, single-vehicle garage with extra storage space. The exterior will have a brick facade and other elements in keeping with the historic neighborhood.

 

“It’s a pretty building,” Hines said. “It will kind of fit into that streetscape.”

 

The condos will go up for sale when finished, and while Hines was unsure of the exact prices, he said he assumes they will be listed in the $400,000 to $500,000 range.

 

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