Samuel Kelsey Apartments Rich in History

Arthur Winn -
The building that would become the Samuel Kelsey Apartments was originally built as a three-story art deco building. It was the epi-center of the 1968 riots when it was severely damaged by fire. Ten years later, a District of Columbia agency that was known as the Redevelopment Land Clearance Agency awarded the property to a nearby church, the Kelsey Temple Church of God in Christ. The apartments are named for its founder.

Samuel Jackson, a member of the Church and a prominent DC civil rights attorney, led the Church’s search for a development partner. WinnCompanies was selected after a competition with several other developers. This housing would not exist today were it not for the efforts of Samuel Jackson. He had served as a former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Nixon Administration and was a consistent and outspoken civil rights advocate. Unfortunately he passed away from cancer in 1982 and never had the chance to see the 30 years of success that would follow.

Several developers had called for the building to be demolished tearing, but we proposed preserving the building a historic place and adding two floors.  We saw this project as an opportunity to create a pocket of stability for a neighborhood that needed support to rebuild.

During construction, WinnCompanies hired a local community leader who helped recruit local residents for the general contractor to hire and train to work on the rehabilitation. WinnCompanies also entered into one of the District’s first minority participation agreements for this project, ensuring that 50% of jobs and services went to minority vendors.

Most of the ground floor retail tenants were minority-owned businesses, and construction was executed in such a way to keep all of them kept all of them operation. WinnCompanies established a rent for these businesses of $3.30 per square foot, well below market rate. Read more about the WinnCompanies involvement in the Samuel Kelsey Apartments