Montgomery County will soon begin construction in downtown Bethesda on a transitional residence; work on the 12-unit project may start as early as this month. The diminutive project, tucked among other moderately sized residential buildings and small commercial buildings, will fit in at 4913 Hampden Lane and serve as permanent housing for the formerly homeless. After swapping land with two developers and facing many delays of its own, Montgomery County's project will actually outpace its neighboring private residential projects, at 4901 and 4917-4921 Hampden Lane. Just blocks from the Bethesda Metro station, the Housing Opportunities Commission's (HOC) project should begin construction before the end of the month, according to Construction Manager Scott Kataline. HOC will develop, own and manage the property.
In 2000, Armont Development, the team behind the proposed Edgemoor at nearby 4821 Montgomery Lane, originally proposed the idea of a land swap to provide room on Hampden Lane for the moderately priced dwelling units for its development. Montgomery County began working on a site plan for 4917 Hampden Lane in 2003 and the land swap took place in January 2004, according to John Poyer, HOC's Housing Acquisitions Manager. The county was ready to begin construction when a second developer under the name Hampden Lane Associates LLC acquired properties on either side of Montgomery County's space with plans for a now-stalled 60-unit condominium.
In order to have a contiguous site, the developer offered to swap land and reimburse the county for any costs it had already incurred. The two parties signed a development agreement in June 2005 and 4913 became the new HOC project site. HOC has since reworked the design for the new site and secured financing so that now, ten years after the seed was planted, the permanent supportive-housing-for-formerly-homeless-project will find its home at 4913 Hampden Lane.
The four-story wood frame structure was designed by NOA Architects and will be constructed by recently selected general contractor, Hamel Builders. A single-family home on the property will be demolished to make way for the new construction. The building will consist of six studios and six one-bedroom units, financed in part by federal low income housing tax credits through the Maryland Community Development Administration. The building will be built to LEED certification standards, but HOC will not apply for certification by the USGBC, given the extra costs entailed.
Residents will receive Section 8 vouchers to cover their rent and the operational costs of the building. A resident counselor/on-site building manager will provide necessary assistance for residents, ranging from job training to computer instruction. Unlike temporary or transitional housing, the project's residents "will not be on a clock that forces them to leave after a preset time," explained Poyer. The goal is to give residents services "to help them move on to a more independent lifestyle." Despite the progress on the shelter, none of the related private developments nor any of those planned for Hampden Lane have moved forward.
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