WinnCompanies has started work on a $23.7 million renovation of the 184-unit Carl Mackley Houses in northeast Philadelphia.
WinnCompanies has started work on a $23.7 million renovation of the 184-unit Carl Mackley Houses in northeast Philadelphia.

WinnCompanies has acquired Carl Mackley Houses, the nation’s first federally funded housing complex that was built during the Great Depression, in northeast Philadelphia. The multifamily owner and developer has started work on a $23.7 million renovation of the historic 184-unit affordable housing community.

The housing complex opened in 1935 as single-family apartments for union workers. Sponsored by the American Federation of Full-Fashioned Hosiery Workers, it was the first housing project financed by the Housing Division of the Public Works Administration, a centerpiece of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

“Carl Mackley Houses was born from a collective effort by labor unions and government to create desperately needed housing for working people. Eighty-six years later, the need for quality affordable housing is just as great, if not greater,” said WinnDevelopment president and managing partner Larry Curtis. “We’re proud to have the opportunity to lead a modern public-private partnership that is restoring and improving the historic housing community and guaranteeing it remains affordable for the next 40 years.”

After pursuing the deal for two-and-a-half years, WinnCompanies acquired the property Jan. 29 and secured financing for the rehab April 1. Partners include the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which partially subsidizes rents and insures the permanent mortgage; and the National Park Service, which oversees the federal historic tax credit program.

Funding sources include tax-exempt bond financing and an allocation of 4% low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; a Federal Housing Administration permanent mortgage from Merchants Capital; an investment in the permanent mortgage from AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust; subordinate acquisition and construction financing from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp.; equity investment in the LIHTCs and state and federal historic credits from The Richman Group Affordable Housing Corp.; equity bridge financing from TD Bank; and energy-efficiency rebates from the Philadelphia Gas Works EnergySense program.

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Carl Mackley Houses spans an entire block, with four three-story buildings featuring a range of one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom units and a community building with space for resident programming and services.

It was partially rehabbed in 1997 but had fallen into disrepair in recent years, raising concerns about long-term viability due to a lack of capital investments, inadequate security, and poor energy efficiency.

WinnCompanies plans to modernize kitchens and bathrooms in the four residential buildings; install central air conditioning in all units; replace all windows and roofs; upgrade common areas; make 19 apartments fully accessible for residents with mobility impairments; and adapt eight units for residents with sensory impairments.

The rehab will include the restoration and stabilization of the historic brick facades and the installation of modern energy conservation systems to reduce utility consumption and promote resident comfort. Sidewalks and walking paths also will be improved.

According to WinnCompanies, the renovation work will be performed by union labor. The affordable housing community was named for Carl Mackley, a 22-year-old union worker who was shot and killed March 6, 1930, while supporting a strike at the H.C. Aberle Co.

“The preservation of affordable housing is a fundamental priority as we build back our nation’s infrastructure,” said AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust CEO Chang Suh. “The labor movement supports housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households. HIT’s financing for Carl Mackley reflects our continuing commitment to help provide housing for working families and good jobs for union members.”

In addition to expanding the on-site management offices to create a computer lab, the construction will create an office for a full-time, bilingual community coordinator to help connect residents with services and resources. Working with a network of more than 100 Philadelphia service providers and partners, residents will have access to community-based programs as part of WinnCompanies’ Connected Communities program.

Carl Mackley Houses also will be the first multifamily community in Pennsylvania to launch the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency Program. HUD approved the plan put forth by WinnCompanies, Compass Working Capital, and the Carl Mackley community to support residents in building assets and financial capability.

“The city of Philadelphia has been an instrumental partner in this effort, playing a key role in helping us navigate the approvals needed to get work underway,” said Aimee McHale, vice president at WinnDevelopment. “We look forward to celebrating the ribbon-cutting at the refurbished community in the fall of 2022.”

More than 320 residents live at Carl Mackley Houses. All units are subsidized under the LIHTC program and half under the Section 8 program. During the phased renovation, residents will be temporarily relocated. Property management arm WinnResidential is now operating the community.

WinnDevelopment will lead the 18-month renovation, with Domus serving as the general contractor and Kramer + Marks Architects serving as the architect.