Delta Towers was one of the early high-rise apartment buildings on the eastern end of H Street NE, at Florida Avenue and Bladensburg. The sisters of Delta Sigma Theta bought the land from the District in the late 1970s, and got funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for a 138-unit senior housing complex, built out of prefabricated units put together floor by floor, which stands to this day.
They only developed half the land, though; the rest is just a parking lot. Back in 2009, Delta tried to build on the second half, proposing a 100-unit, eight-story, mixed-income project that would’ve cost about $37 million, to be financed through low income housing tax credits. It didn’t pan out—-and not because of financing, says Katrina Jones, president of the board of Delta Housing Corporation.
“I wish that was the case,” she says ruefully, declining to go into details. “I don’t know if we had the right team together at that time..Let’s just say that we’ve regrouped, and I think that we have a good chance of everything coming to fruition now.”
The team then included former banker and D.C. government official Russell Simmons as a development consultant. Delta dumped him for the Bundy Development Corporation, and may or may not keep on the original architect Bryant Mitchell Associates, who are responsible for very of-their-time projects like Dunbar High School and the University of the District of Columbia. (Simmons didn’t respond to requests for comment, and Melvin Mitchell hadn’t heard that the project was moving forward again).
Over the years, they’ve been approached by several developers—-including JBG, said a Delta representative at a recent community meeting—-but want to maintain control of the site. The next challenge is financing. Jones is putting together an application for the current round of low income housing tax credits issued by the District’s Department of Housing and Community Development, so if that works out, they’re in business.