2015 MAHC Innovation Award
Rivers Edge Apartments and Studio for the Arts eliminated the blight of a 5 story partially complete condominium project that went into bankruptcy, provides 90 safe new affordable housing units on the Wicomico River with a preference for artists and persons with disabilities for very affordable rents ranging from $179 to the most expensive of $994 month (which includes heating and air conditioning). Significant community and art work space was provided in excess of 6,000 square feet for the benefit of the resident population as well as the Salisbury art community.
Osprey Property Company LLC redeveloped the Rivers Edge condominium project that was abandoned in 2008. The partially completed building remained on the shoreline of the Wicomico River before the new project was funded with the use of Federal Low Income House Tax Credits, State loan funds from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, and private investment. The $17.1 million community consisting of 90 apartments is located just steps away from Downtown Salisbury. Osprey, through partnerships with the local art community, was successful in having Rivers Edge included in the Arts and Entertainment District. This provides for income tax benefits to sales derived from resident artists’ work.
A Riverwalk extension was built according to the City of Salisbury standards, connecting the Downtown, Salisbury Marina and other area shopping, restaurants and businesses, which are also easily accessible by riding the Shore Transit local bus or the downtown trolley both which stop within close proximity of the community.
Rivers Edge Apartments and Studio for the Arts is marketed toward and a preference is given to artists and persons with disabilities. An artists’ preference policy was created to clearly define an artist and Rivers Edge is being specifically developed to meet the needs of Salisbury, Wicomico County, and the Greater Eastern Shore’s artist population. A 2,300 square foot art studio and gallery space are outfitted with a mobile stage, ample storage for art supplies, lockers for personal use, artwork display area, and tables and chairs to create a comfortable work space for all types of art. A logo contest was held, summoning local artists to use their creativity to design the logo that will represent the community. The logo selected was based on the winning submission.
Rivers Edge Apartments and Studio for the Arts consists of 90 apartments with one, two, and three bedroom units, including 12 two-story loft units which are ideal for the Live Work apartment. The units range in size from 696 square feet to 1192 square feet. All rents include water, sewer, trash, heating and air conditioning. All first floor units are universally designed for conversion to serve residents in need of accessible apartments. There are 10 handicap accessible units. In total, there are 44 one-bedroom units, 32 two-bedroom units, and 14 three-bedroom units. Apartments include a full kitchen, refrigerator, dishwasher, abundant counter and cabinet space, individual heating and AC, and wiring for cable, internet and telephone. An in-unit washer and dryer is available for those who choose not to use the communal laundry facilities. Community amenities also include a library, yoga studio, business center, and a resident community room that includes a lounge area and a warming kitchen. There is also a modern playground designed by a Salisbury resident Ryland Weaver. Numerous patios and outdoor spaces with tremendous views of the Wicomico River are on site.
Rivers Edge is income restricted, therefore only those who earn 60% or less of the area median income are eligible for residency. One bedroom apartments range from $389-$770 per month. Two bedroom apartments range from $462-$832 per month. Three bedroom apartments range from $729-$994 per month. There are also three units specifically reserved for non-elderly, disabled individuals thanks to funding from the Weinberg Foundation- one 1-bedroom apartment for $179 per month and two 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartments were leased for $204 per month.
Osprey is partners with United Needs and Abilities, a non-profit agency dedicated to serving persons with development disabilities and epilepsy. UNA currently provides housing to clients in the Salisbury area and recognizes there is a great need for safe, decent, affordable housing for those with disabilities. UNA has a 10% ownership in the project and will receive a portion of the developer’s fee. Rivers Edge Apartments and Studio for the Arts is professionally managed by Habitat America, LLC.
Construction began in December of 2013 with the demolition of the original building and was completed in April of 2015. One hundred percent of the units were leased in August of 2015. Forty-nine units are leased to artists meeting the artist preference policy and 25 units are leased to those persons meeting the disabled preference.
Mike Dyer, CEO of United Needs and Abilities: “We had never considered the concept of bringing together persons with disabilities and artists. What a fantastic idea! Artists residing at Rivers Edge have an excellent opportunity to give back to the community by sharing their gifts with persons with disabilities. We also did not realize how many persons that we were serve who have disabilities were artists. Today, several of the people that we serve live at Rivers Edge. Those living here include a person who utilizes a wheelchair but never had the ability to brush their teeth at the sink because they never had an accessible sink, a person who left a living arrangement where they were they were subjected to abuse but until now could not afford to live elsewhere, a person who needed to move from their apartment because they lost their Bridge subsidy, a person in their 50’s who was finally able to move out of their parent’s home, and those ready to take the next step towards independence.”
Derrick Mitchell, a Rivers Edge Apartments and Studio for the Arts resident and children’s author and illustrator, has published “Miyah and Koala’s First Day” and “Please Don’t Cry,” two books written about his daughters experiences.