Twinbrook apartment complex celebrates renovations, new playground -- Gazette.Net







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Josephine Hebron and her mother, Velma Hebron, first moved into the Halpine Hamlet apartments in Rockville in 1969. Josephine Hebron moved away for a while, then moved back 10 to 15 years ago.

“It’s very convenient. ... I walk everywhere,” she said.

The apartment complex is near Twinbrook Metro Station in an area where developers have lately replaced or plan to replace older buildings with luxury apartments and Class A office space.

Montgomery Housing Partnership Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer based in Silver Spring, bought the apartments in 2009 and started renovating them. The partnership held a ribbon-cutting at Halpine Hamlet on Tuesday to debut the new features.

Robert Goldman, Montgomery Housing Partnership president, said the organization wanted to make sure another developer didn’t buy the apartments and demolish them to make way for office space or luxury apartments outside the residents’ price range.

“Just [in] a matter of time, this property was going to be gobbled up and people displaced,” Goldman said.

The partnership plans to rent out most of the 67 garden-style apartments to people making 60 percent or less of the area median income. In Rockville, 60 percent of the median income for a family of four is about $64,500.

The apartment upgrades included energy-efficient appliances, new roofs and renovated bathrooms. Another big change is the playground in the middle of the complex that was built last spring.

Shari Ashman of Rockville donated funds for the playground to mark her 70th birthday in May. She said she had been planning a family cruise, but changed her mind after a friend told her about someone else who donated a playground in Washington, D.C., for her 60th birthday.

“I called up the whole family and said, ‘No cruise; you’re coming to Maryland,’” Ashman said.

Contractors set up some of the supporting pieces that required professional attention, and about 80 of Ashman’s friends and family members finished putting the playground together.

Hebron said the renovations have been good for the apartment complex, especially the better lighting and the new playground. More important, however, are the safe area and friendly people. One morning during the winter, she said she woke up to find that some of her neighbors had already cleaned the snow off her car.

Goldman said things like the playground encourage residents to spend time outside their apartments and get to know one another.

“We’re building a sense of community, not just having a bunch of housing,” he said.