$8 million renovations of 108 housing units for elderly to be completed this year
In 1981, it cost $3.1 million to build Marydale Retirement Village, the 108-apartment retirement community off Salem Church Road in Newark.
Thirty-six years later, a complete renovation of the 18-acre complex, managed by the Diocese of Wilmington’s Catholic Charities through Catholic Ministry to the Elderly Inc., costs more than $8 million.
The renovation project, a complex operation that’s been underway for the past 12 months, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The funding for Marydale’s remodeling came through a federal program that spurs banks, corporations and financial groups to invest in community projects to gain Low Income Housing Tax Credits, said Richelle Vible, executive director of Catholic Charities in the diocese.
Cinnaire, previously the Delaware Community Investment Corp., oversees a consortium of banks that are investing in Marydale through the purchase of federal tax credits. Delaware State Housing Authority manages the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in Delaware. Citizens Bank is also providing construction financing for Marydale.
Bishop Malooly toured newly remodeled Marydale units on May 30 with Vible; Howard Motely, Marydale’s program director; members of Marydale’s board of directors; and Kevin Kelly, president of Leon N. Weiner & Associates (LNWA), a Wilmington construction firm that specializes in housing for the elderly and is a development partner in the Marydale renovations project.
“We’re just really excited,” said Vible later that week. “Marydale was 30-plus years old and was showing its age. It was in need of some TLC.”
So far, five “courts” of three apartment buildings each have been renovated. Marydale took care of moving residents and their possessions to area apartments during the remodeling and moving the occupants back in, said Motley, who has directed Marydale for more than two years.
“We had to adhere to Delaware State Housing Authority requirements,” Motley added.
“The units were gutted down to the studs. All the drywall was replaced. There are new heat pumps, new air conditioning, new flooring. All the roofs are new. There’s new siding, new lighting, new windows and new appliances throughout.”
Each renovated unit now has a sprinkler system, too, a big safety improvement included in the project.
Updated appliances in each unit include a refrigerator, stove, and also microwaves and ceiling fans. Each apartment also comes with a hookup for a washer and dryer.
Motley said residents of the renovated apartments will also have an emergency call system — pendants with a button that can be pressed for help in case of an emergency.
“It’s got a GPS component that can tell us where they are on the grounds,” said Vible. “If they’re in the community room, visiting a neighbor or walking on the sidewalk when they fall, the GPS will tell where they are. We used to have a pull-cord system in their units, but if you didn’t fall next to the cord, that was a problem.”
The 1981-era Marydale only had six handicapped-accessible units, Motley noted. “So we’ve increased our handicapped units from six to 22.”
The handicapped-access apartments have larger bathrooms, wider doorways, lower countertops and cabinets and easier shower access. Ramps from the apartments and wheelchair-accessible sidewalks provide a route from each building to the community center at the facility.
Marydale also has a bus for residents to take them shopping once a week or to excursions for lunch or other events. The bus also takes Catholic residents to Mass “next door” at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Jeanne Jugan Residence for elderly who require assisted living.
Motley, who worked for the federal Housing and Urban Development Department for 34 years before directing Marydale, said while the village is considered elderly housing, people who are younger than 62 can apply for the 22 handicapped apartments.
Catholic Ministry to the Elderly oversees Marydale but applicants don’t have to be Catholics.
Requirements for admission, other than age or physical disability, are income-based. The units are open to low-income, very low income and extremely low income residents, Motley said. Those income levels would be 30 percent, 40 percent or 60 percent of New Castle County’s median income. Thirty percent of the median income is $17,500 a year.
‘A real community’
While Marydale housing is available to people with those low incomes, “what they pay in rent is 30 percent of that income,” Vible said.
“We have people who make far less than $17,500, who are able to live here. I think the current level of Social Security is $735 a month; and [those with that income] are able to live here at Marydale.”
Currently, there are about 112 people on the independent-living facility’s waiting list.
Marydale “is a really wonderful service and ministry to people who really need it,” Vible said. “Not only are they getting housing, they’re getting beautiful, brand new fully renovated housing. Hopefully, it’s someplace they can live for many years. We have people who love it here at Marydale. They don’t want to leave. It’s a real community.”
“Most residents don’t leave Marydale unless they’re going into assisted living,” Motley said. “They tend to stay.”
That’s why he’s excited the renovations are more than halfway completed. Motley will be happy when the remaining temporarily displaced residents are all back home in their apartments.
“The end of this calendar year, I hope,” said Vible.
“I think we’ll get there,” Motely replied.
For more information on Marydale, call (302) 368-2784.