Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peck Site Swap Yields Affordable Homes

A recent approval by Arlington County has paved the way for a new affordable housing project in the center of Ballston. The JBG Companies have long had plans for 800,000 s.f. of mixed-use development on the former Bob Peck Dealership and Showroom site in Ballston, but the project lacked an affordable housing component. Arlington-based AHC Inc., which provides affordable housing locally, wanted a higher density development at its neighboring Jordan Manor project, an affordable housing site. But the thought of two high-density developments in close proximity troubled some in the planning process. Arlington, seeing an opportunity for a deal that would please both parties and yield affordable housing for the county, facilitated a land swap between the two developers.

The result was a plan for 90 affordable rental units, designed by Bonstra Haresign Architects and developed by AHC, on a portion of the JBG Companies' land, keeping the density all on one site. JBG will in turn develop 28 townhouses on AHC's 1.1-acre Jordan Manor Site, keeping it lower density. The board approved the affordable housing plans last Saturday.

AHC Project Manager Curtis Adams said his company wanted to build a higher density project on their adjacent site and submitted plans to Arlington around the same time as JBG. "We had been interested in developing our property into higher density and JBG was doing their big development, and we knew that it would hurt our chances of getting the density we wanted. The county pushed for a land swap - they are building townhouses on AHC property and we will take room on their site to the higher density that we wanted."

Adams said his company will demolish the existing 24-unit Jordan Manor that they own and operate to prepare for the approved land swap that will take place in December of this year. The affordable housing component will deliver two buildings, the Wilson and the Wakefield, and is a benefit to the master developer who can now boast the affordable units as a community benefit and not just a large mixed-use development. As project architect David Haresign said, "It is an important component of the project because JBG is now able to show a project with affordable housing."

When the larger project was initially approved in February, County Board Chairman Walter Tejada said, "The project has it all...it adds to our stock of affordable housing in the Metro Corridor."

The entire development on the "Peck site" will deliver two office buildings with over 400,000 s.f. of office space and 36,000 s.f. of ground floor retail space as well as the 28 townhomes on the demolished Jordan Manor site. The commercial space, JBG's portion, was designed by Cooper Carry.

Other community benefits include LEED certification for both office buildings, new traffic signals, after-hours public parking, and pathways connecting the two buidlings. Projected rents on the affordable units range from $1,050 for a one-bedroom unit to around $1,500 for a three-bedroom unit. The majority of the affordable units will have two or three bedrooms.

Bowman Consulting is the civil engineer and landscape architect for the entire complex.

Arlington Virginia real estate development news


Matt Siemer on Jul 30, 2008, 11:18:00 AM said...

Hey! This is really exciting news! I was wondering if you knew, though, how they are defining affordable. We've had some problems recently with a strange difference in definition. Where a lot of non-profit groups think that it means "available for those who qualify for Housing Choice Vouchers, Sec. 8, etc." and some agencies have started using the definition "available for those who have an annual income of $70,000 or less." Do you know anything about this?

erin*carly on Jul 30, 2008, 1:42:00 PM said...

matt, great question! i was thinking the same thing. i'd love to cut the roommate count from four to one someday, and 'affordable' housing is the only way that's happening without moving to the boonies.

erin*carly on Jul 30, 2008, 1:44:00 PM said...

also, when we have to specify certain areas of housing as 'affordable,' what does that say about our living trends and standards?

Matt Siemer on Jul 30, 2008, 4:16:00 PM said...

Oh. Sorry, Erin, I was actually hoping for the opposite direction (that the units would be restricted to those who qualify as extremely low-income). You make a good point with the oddity that some units have to be branded 'affordable,' insinuating (accurately, for me at least) that the other apartments are priced above what they should be, but I would be glad to hear that we would be getting some higher density, nice-looking low-income housing.

Anonymous said...

hey kids,

i think we are dealing with a euphemism here. notice that other units are called "market-rate" - as in consistent with the market.

Anonymous said...

Matt- So you basically want a housing project? They were high quality too, once upon a time. I know you have the best intentions, but project housing is proven to be an abject failure since it concentrates poverty. Mixed income would be better- I'd suggest a 60/30/10 mix. 60% market, 30% afforable/workforce, and 10% section 8.

Anonymous said...

I concure, a housing project in the middle of Ballston is nuts! For the "earth is flat- moonbats like Matt Siemer" checkout http://www.spotcrime.com/va.

After this project goes up see what happends. If your still scratching your heads go see how well the Section 8 works in Old Town, Alexandria.

Matt Siemer on Aug 4, 2008, 10:26:00 AM said...

That's funny--today I get to be a moonbat! I wonder what that means...

Anonymous2: You're absolutely right about a 'concentration of poverty' in housing projects. I assumed any affordable housing would be part of a mixed income development (as you discussed). Does anyone have any other information about this site?

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