- Kenton Tsoodle
New project to build affordable senior housing
A new development project is kicking off and will add much needed senior housing in Oklahoma City. The Harmony – Marcus Garvey Apartments will be located at 1537 NE 24th St., following the recent sale of the former school building by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority to developers Norman Seaberg and Annita Bridges with One Red Oak LLC.
The 25,079-square-foot building, formerly Marcus Garvey School, will be renovated to include affordable and low-income housing for people 55 and older and their families. The original school building will offer 20 new apartment units, and three new buildings will offer another 20 units. The school auditorium will be transformed into a common area and fitness center. A new two-story community building will be added to provide classes and services such as small business support to the surrounding community. While the inside of the existing building will be gutted following years of disuse, the brick exterior is in good shape.
Construction and renovation will start soon and the project is expected to be complete at the end of 2023 with an estimated cost of $10.9 million. The project was made possible with several funding incentives, including tax increment financing, General Obligation Limited Tax Bonds, HOME Funds, Low Income Housing Tax Credits and federal and state Historic Tax Credits. After the developers submitted their proposal, the Oklahoma Legislature changed a law to allow state tax credits for affordable housing in Oklahoma County, helping to further reduce the price per unit.
The incentives were important in offering affordable housing units for families earning between 50% and 80% of the adjusted median income. Based on 2022 allowable income, the limit could range from $29,900 per year for a family of one at 50% AMI, to $68,240 for a family of four at 80% AMI.
Built in 1927 as Harmony Public School, the school was renamed in 2003 for a Mr. Garvey, a Jamaican publisher, journalist and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. Abandoned in 2014, it was transferred from Oklahoma City Public Schools to OCURA in 2018.
Oklahoma City has a shortage of low-income housing, and very little of that serves seniors. This project is a great example of Oklahoma City’s partnership with private developers to provide needed housing while preserving historic structures.