Is This The Future of Affordable Housing?
The DC region has long suffered an affordable housing shortage. But a new public-private partnership (PPP, if you're in a hurry) is getting a project off the ground that could inspire more.
Jefferson Apartment Group is known for luxury residential projects like Jefferson at 14W in DC and The Asher in Alexandria. The McLean company is now working on its first 100% affordable housing apartment complex for people earning 50%-60% of the area median income. The Residences at Government Center will be 270 units in two, four-story buildings in Fairfax County. It also includes an above-grade parking garage with 367 spaces, which is rare in affordable housing projects, says JAG EVP Greg Lamb. An Urban Institute housing security study show low-income renters face major competition for affordable housing from higher-income people, creating a gap of over 94,000 rental units for extremely low-income people.
The units will have many of the same amenities found in market rate residential projects, but some of the finishes will be more economical, like laminate kitchen counters versus granite. Despite it being affordable, Greg says the $56M project will generate a profit for the company when completed in October 2016. It was funded with two types of tax credits that were combined in one deal.
The project came through a PPP formed eight years ago between JAG, Stratford Capital Group and Fairfax County. The land is owned by the county and is being leased to JAG for 99 years at a reduced rate. It’s unusual that a 100% affordable housing project like this would be located in a close-in NoVa suburb, says Greg. You usually find them in farther communities like Warrenton or Frederick, where the land is cheaper. Greg says the project never would've worked if Fairfax County hadn’t agreed to venture the land through a lease structure.