Work to tear down the 71 townhouse units and replace them with 66 garden-style apartments began in September.
Walker Woods, a 1980s-era low income housing project in West Dover soon will be no more.
In fact, it’s already disappearing.
Work to tear down the 71 townhouse units and replace them with 66 garden-style apartments began in September. The completed community will be known as the Village at McKee Branch.
“Our mission is to provide affordable housing solutions for working families and modest-income families,” said Russ Huxtable, vice president and COO of the Milford Housing Development Corporation. “This is an extension of that work.”
The project is a joint effort between the MHDC, Salisbury, Md.,-based Green Street Housing and Fisher Architecture of Salisbury to take what essentially was a marginally acceptable group of apartments and turn them into well-built, well maintained homes, Huxtable said.
The project is being finance by low income tax credits through the Delaware State Housing Authority, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Delaware Community Investment Corporation and other groups, he said.
The goal of the $7.8 million project was to create a new community that would be better in all respects than the one it replaces, said Keith Fisher of Fisher Architecture.
The 13 buildings originally on the property will be reduced to 12 apartment buildings, and a community center will be built, Fisher said. The center will house the complex’s leasing and management offices, community meeting space, a recreation area, computers that may be used by community residents and a maintenance area.
Workers demolished the 30-year-old townhomes, taking them down to the concrete foundations, Fisher said. The foundation walls were raised to create better airflow around the buildings and work was done to eliminate drainage issues.
“There were other concerns we had in that we needed to make sure what we were doing would set a new standard,” Fisher added. The homes will include energy-efficient appliances and upgraded insulation what will save money when it comes to heating and cooling, he added.
These and other improvements due to changes in technology over the past 30 years will increase the life of each building and help reduce maintenance costs, Fisher said.
About 20 percent of the apartments will take into account residents who have mobility issues and need greater handicap-accessibility. Each apartment comes equipped with smoke detectors and central air and heating controlled by digital thermostats.
“In anything, especially a project like this, our goal is to do the most we can within the project budget,” Fisher said. “We worked closely with the developer and the developer’s consultant to ask how we could change the living experiences for all those who live out there.”
To make room for the new construction, community residents were moved into empty townhomes as they became vacant. This allowed entire buildings to be vacated and these were demolished first, Huxtable said. Everyone who remained throughout the construction period will get to move into one of the new apartments, he said.
Rents will be based on income and apartment size, Huxtable said, and some residents may end up paying less because they’ll be charged rent on an apartment instead of a townhome.
Walker Woods also was a concern to residents because of criminal activity in the area, including a fatal shooting there in May. The Village at McKee Branch will have increased security measures, including surveillance cameras that can be monitored from the community center.
“This is a wonderful project to ensure there are decent affordable housing choices in Dover,” Fisher said. “This project will benefit from this investment we are putting into it.”
“I think you will have a completely