Prior to redevelopment, the four-acre site included the seven-story Roxbury House with 150 apartments, and 60 townhomes spread among 15 buildings in Roxbury Village.
Addressing site design problems
The ill-conceived site design of the Roxbury properties contributed to a variety of social problems.
The entire site was one super block, with no way to separate the residents of the Village from those of the House. As a result, seniors and residents with disabilities were surrounded by large families living in the townhomes. In addition, hidden pockets in the circulation patterns through the Village and the adjacent Roxhill Park gave rise to gang activity.
Making matters worse, the original construction of Roxbury Village did not stand the test of time. Serious rot and asbestos problems in the townhouses resulted in high maintenance costs and the closing of many units. Roxbury House had infrastructure problems and poorly-designed common areas that were difficult for residents to use safely and effectively.
These issues were addressed as part of the redevelopment plan. The site was redesigned to split the super block into two regular city blocks with a new street between them.
The high-rise, on the southern block, is set back from Roxbury Street, with a new, welcoming lawn and gazebo, more parking and easy access to transit and services along the arterial. On the northern block, the old townhomes have been replaced with new, mixed-income, family housing communities.
Creating housing for seniors & families
The resident mix in the old Roxbury House was 25 percent seniors alongside 75 percent younger people with disabilities, even though the building lacked the appropriate accommodations for residents with physical disabilities.
These two groups of residents were themselves surrounded by the group of large families living in the adjacent Roxbury Village. The result was an environment that was uncomfortable for all populations.
The new design called for the creation of two safe, secure, habitable communities. One was for designed specifically for seniors (Westwood Heights) and the other (made up of Westwood Court and Longfellow Court) was for families.
With the designation of the high-rise for seniors, specially designed services could be put in place and offered to other seniors in the neighborhood. The goal was to bring people together and break through the isolation seniors often experience.
At the same time, the old townhomes were replaced with rental housing for families, developed in partnership with the Lutheran Alliance to Create Housing (LATCH). Together, they contain 45 one- to five-bedroom townhouse rentals serving households with a range of incomes.
1998 — Roxbury House and Village are awarded $17 million in HOPE VI funding for redevelopment.
2001 — Roxbury properties reopen as Westwood Heights, Westwood Court, and Longfellow Court.
2003 — Seattle Housing Authority starts purchasing nearby apartments to revitalize the neighborhood.
2007 — Renovations of all neighboring apartments are finished, and the block's redevelopment is complete.