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Amazon Reveals $147M In New Contributions To 11 D.C. Affordable Housing Projects

Amazon leaders joined Mayor Muriel Bowser and other local officials Wednesday to award $147M in grants and loans to affordable housing projects across D.C.

The contributions from Amazon's Housing Equity Fund, announced at an event at the Congress Heights Metro station, are expected to create and preserve 1,260 affordable housing units. They bring the e-commerce giant's commitments to nearly $992M across the D.C. metro area, with investments in 6,200 affordable housing units.

Catherine Buell, director of Amazon's Housing Equity Fund, speaks during an event at the Congress Heights Metro station in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14, 2022.

"Amazon believes that the private sector has a role to play in advancing affordable housing in our hometown communities," Amazon Housing Equity Fund Director Catherine Buell said. "We are not finished here. We're excited to continue innovating in this space."

The newly announced projects include the Congress Heights Apartments, located next to where the event was staged. The redevelopment project has been in the works for years, in part due to a lawsuit filed in 2016 by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine's booting landlord Sanford Capital from the site.

The suit was settled in January, the same month the ownership of the 47-unit property was transferred to Standard Real Estate Investments, which is partnering with Trammell Crow Co. and NHT Communities to redevelop the site.

The new vision for the property, located at the southern entrance of the Congress Heights Metro station, includes 179 units, all affordable to those making between 30% and 80% of the area median income.

The developers are planning to include ground-floor retail in the new residential project, and they plan to build a 240K SF office property on Metro-owned land.

The project joins work NHT has done with the Savannah Apartments to increase the number of affordable units in the area across Alabama Avenue SE from the St. Elizabeths campus, CEO Priya Jayachandran said.

NHT Communities President Priya Jayachandran speaks during an event at the Congress Heights Metro station in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14, 2022.

"While it's encouraging to see such investment in this neighborhood, one thing that NHT and all of us don't want to see is the displacement of the people who have stuck by this community for decades," Jayachandran said. "We not only want to provide housing to those who need it, we want to help build places and communities that everyone would be proud to call home."

Following the event, Racine discussed the lawsuit he brought on behalf of tenants against Sanford and Carter Nowell, noting that it was his first to protect low-income tenants.

"The conditions at this facility were outrageous, you would never want your worst enemy to live here," Racine said. "We’re the ones who caused this property to now be totally, 100% affordable. We’re the ones who fought with the tenants."

The Congress Heights property was not the only property included in Amazon's announcement Wednesday. The fund is also backing projects in six of the District's eight wards, including a three-property portfolio in Mount Pleasant that Jubilee Housing is in the process of acquiring from Van Metre Apartments.

The contributions consisted of a combination of grants and loans ranging from $2M to $50.1M, the Washington Business Journal reported

Bowser, who also spoke at the event, lauded the investment from Amazon, which includes several properties located on or near Metro stations.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during an event at the Congress Heights Metro station on Sept. 14, 2022.

"It’s kind of full circle for me too, because when I was on the Metro board a long time ago, this Congress Heights Metro station and its transit-oriented development was a major focus of mine," Bowser said. "The closer and closer we get to this vision the better."

The properties included in the announcement, which also span two projects in Maryland and one in Virginia, are as follows:

  • The Congress Heights Apartments project in Ward 8 led by NHT, which is slated to deliver 179 affordable apartments once completed.
  • 2026 Maryland Ave. NE in the Carver-Langston neighborhood of Ward 5, where Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners plans to preserve 320 units for those earning 30% to 60% AMI.
  • The Residences at Benning Road, adjacent to the Benning Road Metro station in Ward 7, where Gragg Cardona Partners plans to create 156 new apartments for those making 60% AMI.
  • 4111 Kansas Ave. NW in Ward 4, where So Others Might Eat plans to convert a planned condominium project into 40 units affordable for those making 50% to 80% AMI.
  • 325 Vine across from the Takoma Metro station in Ward 4, where SGA Cos. plans to build a 102-unit apartment project affordable for those making 60% to 80% AMI.
  • S Street Village near the Shaw Metro station in Ward 2, where Manna Inc. plans to convert a former church property into 90 units affordable to those making 60% AMI.
  • The Mount Pleasant Preservation Project along 16th Street in Ward 1, where Jubilee Housing is planning to convert 165 apartments across three buildings into affordable units for those making 40% to 80% AMI.
  • Holmead Place Apartments in Ward 1, where Wesley Housing plans to convert 99 homes to affordable units for those making 30% to 80% AMI.
  • 210 on the Park, a new project led by A. Wash & Associates and Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures to build 130 units near the Capitol Heights Metro station affordable to those making 70% to 80% AMI.
  • A new development on Nebel Street near the North Bethesda Metro station led by Montgomery Housing Partnership, which plans to build 163 units affordable for those making 30% to 80% AMI.
  • Colchester Towne Condominiums in Alexandria, where Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services is acquiring 18 homes that it plans to preserve as affordable for those making 50% AMI.