Ravaged by fire and vacant for a decade, the brick rowhouse was an eyesore, its windows nailed shut and its facade splotched with peeling paint. Then a nonprofit group and the gang from PBS’ “This Old House” showed up.
Now, after a 3½-month renovation, the paint is gone and the brick has been restored to its original orange-reddish hue. Inside, visitors are greeted by hardwood floors, a semicircular staircase and gleaming kitchen appliances.
District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams and a gaggle of onlookers gathered Tuesday to celebrate the home’s transformation and welcome the new owners, who will buy the three-bedroom, two-bath property for $250,000 — far below market value.
“A family has a home,” Williams said as he cut a giant red ribbon. “It’s a great story.”
The 1870s rowhouse, located a block away from the Washington Convention Center, is just one example of the transformation occurring in the city’s rapidly gentrifying Shaw neighborhood, where real estate prices are soaring.
The rehabilitation was chronicled by the PBS home makeover show “This Old House.” The eight episodes featuring the home are airing through April.
“It was one of the worst homes I’ve seen,” said Norm Abram, the show’s master carpenter. “It was basically a shell.”
The home was purchased for $1 by Mi Casa, a D.C.-based nonprofit group that buys city buildings at below market rates and then sells them to middle- and low-income families. Williams said the home was sold to Mi Casa as part of the district’s Home Again Initiative, in which the city takes control of vacant and abandoned properties and turns them over to developers.
The program began in 2002 to target at least 2,700 homes in neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of blight. So far, more than 100 homes have been awarded to developers. At least one-third must be sold to low- and moderate-income families.
“To be a truly healthy, vibrant city you really need middle-income, lower-moderate-income families,” Williams said after the ribbon-cutting. “That’s what makes a real city.”
A family of six will move into the new home within a month.