Updated May 9 at 2:12 p.m. to correct the first year Ike Leggett was elected county executive.
“We have Leisure World, and now we have Leggett World. And that is something to celebrate,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Dist. 8) joked as a crowd of dozens of elected officials and county residents gathered in downtown Silver Spring on Thursday morning.
Attendees celebrated the opening of The Leggett, a 267-unit, 16-story affordable senior housing complex named for former Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.
Raskin, Gov. Wes Moore (D), County Executive Marc Elrich (D) and County Council President Evan Glass (D-At-large) were among those who lauded Leggett for his accomplishments and leadership during the ribbon cutting, hosted by the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) of Montgomery County.
The complex was named for Leggett due to his dedication to increasing access to affordable housing while he was county executive. Under Leggett’s leadership, Montgomery County expanded affordable housing funding; maintained or constructed 77,000 affordable housing units; and invested in countywide measures to improve the quality of life for senior adults, according to a county news release.
Leggett was elected to a four-year term as Montgomery County Executive in 2006. He is the first and only African American to be elected to that office. He was reelected in 2010 and 2014 and served until 2018. Leggett was the first African American to be elected to the Montgomery County Council. He served four terms as an at-large member and served as the council’s president three times and vice president three times. He chaired the Maryland Democratic Party from 2002 to 2004.
Moore shared a story of how he first met Leggett after serving a tour of Afghanistan. When he came back to the U.S. to begin his tenure as a White House Fellow in 2006, he and Leggett were part of a meeting between veterans and public servants.
“[Leggett] is someone who became a role model. He’s someone who became an ally. Someone who became a friend,” Moore said. “During my campaign, he continued to remind me that if the only thing they say about you at the end of your time is that you were the first [Black governor], then you missed the whole point.”
The Leggett, located on Apple Avenue, will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments for senior citizens aged 62 and older, with 238 units set aside as designated affordable housing. The mixed-income, multi-use facility was built over the 133,000-square-foot South County Regional Recreation and Aquatic Center, which is set to open in late spring or summer. The center is part of a public-private partnership between HOC and Lee Development Group, which is based in downtown Silver Spring.
The complex also features an integrated Holy Cross Hospital wellness center among its amenities. Rent will range from around $1,100 to $2,100 depending on the unit and includes water and sewer utilities. The first tenants are set to move in later this month.
Leggett said he’s honored the building is named for him and is proud of the work the complex represents.
“The real test of a community and a society is how you treat those at the dawn of life, the twilight of life, and in the shadows of life,” Leggett said. “That means the young, that means the elderly and that means people who are challenged either because of poverty, because of race, or because of some form of challenge. That is what we tried to do.”
Elrich said the complex reflects the county’s commitment to increasing access to affordable housing.
“We talk about serving seniors a lot often, just as we talk about serving low-income communities. But we often don’t put in the services that people need to be successful, or the services that address the needs that people have. And this building is going to have the services that people who live here are going to need, and I think that makes it unique and it makes it incredibly valuable to us in the county,” Elrich said.