October 19, 2022
On Thursday, September 30th, DHIC, Brightspire, and the Presbytery of New Hope held a celebration for the transformation of the Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church into Milner Commons. To be completed in 2024, Milner Commons will provide 156 units of affordable housing for individuals aged 55+ of modest means.
The 4.6-acre site will be developed into 156 units in two buildings with a mix of efficiency, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units. All of the units will be affordable to seniors earning less than 60% of the area median income, 10% of the units are reserved for seniors with incomes of 30% of the area median income or less, and another 10% are reserved for persons with disabilities or formerly homeless transitioning to permanent housing.
In addition to an outdoor seating area for residents, the community will include a fitness center, multi-purpose room, computer business center, and onsite services to help residents age in place in their new apartments. The property is along the New Bern Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, so residents will have easy access to downtown Raleigh and medical services at WakeMed.
This community wouldn’t be possible without many key partnerships. It all started with a phone call. Gregg Warren, former President of DHIC, and Kayla Rosenberg Strampe, Senior Project Manager, were sitting in Gregg’s office, when Sam Stone, the then President of the Capital Towers, Inc. Board of Directors, reached out to them about a congregation that was in the midst of a difficult decision of whether or not to dissolve.
The congregation was associated with the Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church in the Longview Gardens neighborhood. If the congregation decided to disband, the property would revert to the Presbytery of New Hope, a Mid-Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA), spanning 33 counties from Efland to the Outer Banks.
With membership on the decline, it was important to the members of Milner Memorial that the land, donated by Henry Herman Milner in 1953, remain a place where serving the community was celebrated. After much discussion, it was decided that the congregation would dissolve and the land would revert to the Presbytery of New Hope with the understanding that it would be used for affordable housing for seniors of modest means.
DHIC and The Presbyterian Homes, Inc. (now Brightspire) were already working together to renovate Capital Towers Apartments, the largest privately owned affordable housing resource for seniors in Raleigh, NC, which itself began as an initiative of local Presbyterian churches. This experience made our organizations realize that it was a natural choice to transform the Milner Memorial site into an affordable housing community for low-income seniors.
DHIC and Brightspire are excited about the opportunity to honor the history of Milner Memorial while enhancing the lives of seniors in the Southeast Raleigh neighborhood. The Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church sanctuary was designed by well-known Raleigh architect, F. Carter Williams and we are committed to using elements from the original building in the new design.
Ms. Strampe, explains, “We wanted to incorporate the church’s history into the new development, so we’ll repurpose brick, pews, and stained-glass windows from the sanctuary in the new buildings.” The community’s name, “Milner Commons,” is in memory of Henry Herman Milner, who is buried on the property.
To read more about DHIC communities that are under development,click here.