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Carlton Miller and Steve Smith

AHC Faces

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35 Years in the Affordable Housing Industry

Carlton Miller and Steve Smith are AHC’s longest-serving staff members. The organization would not be the same without their talents, expertise and warmth. Both have contributed immeasurably to AHC’s growth over the years.

Steve was drawn to AHC’s mission of social justice. Fresh out of graduate school, he was AHC’s second employee. The office didn’t have a copier, computer or even a fax machine. His primary tools were a manual typewriter and a calculator. Now Senior Vice President, Steve is involved in almost all aspects of the organization. He is tremendously proud of how AHC has grown over the years. “I enjoy feeling like we are making a difference,” he says.

Carlton’s original role was to help rehab homes for low-income families. He was sold on the organization after helping an elderly woman on a fixed income repair her roof. “I realized I could come to work every day and help people,” he explains. “What more can you ask for?” Now Vice President of Construction, Carlton manages the many aspects of AHC’s construction projects. “My goal is to help the company build and renovate at a reasonable cost with the highest quality we can possibly get.”

Photo: Carlton Miller (left) and Steve Miller have both worked at AHC for more than 35 years. 

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Land Swap and Affordable Housing Bring Development to Life

AHC Milestones

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The Jordan Is Catalyst for Successful Mixed-Income, Mixed-Use Site

AHC’s first and only (so far) land swap was the catalyst for a successful five-acre mixed-income, mixed-use site in Arlington, VA. Thanks to an innovative land exchange between AHC Inc. and The JBG Companies, an aging apartment building and adjacent car dealership have been transformed into a vibrant corridor with 90 affordable apartments, 28 luxury town homes and two commercial buildings with 450,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The collaborative project began when AHC was redeveloping a timeworn apartment building next to a site The JBG Companies proposed to turn into large commercial buildings and townhouses. When density concerns and lack of community benefits stalled the project, Arlington County suggested JBG and AHC swap land parcels to ease the transition between the commercial buildings and the nearby residential neighborhood. Not only did the neighborhood appreciate and support the resulting step-down density, but they also embraced the affordable housing component as a desirable community benefit. Arlington County also enthusiastically supported the plan because it nearly quadrupled the amount of affordable housing on the site – from 24 to 90 units. Today, the four-story Jordan apartment building sits across the street from million dollar townhomes and next door to two stately glass and chrome Class A office buildings.

The Jordan adds significantly to the diversity of income levels in the Bluemont neighborhood, which includes mostly single-family homes with few traditional apartment buildings. Seven out of 10 Bluemont residents earn more than $100,000 annually. About a quarter have incomes above $200,000. In comparison, families living at The Jordan earn between $35,000 and $65,000 a year.

The Jordan also contributes to the long-term vitality of the community through an onsite pre-school program. Twenty-four children participate in the Montessori program held in The Jordan’s 1,200-square-foot community room and enjoy the property’s outdoor play area, courtyard and library. The program adds a unique twist to the mixed-income nature of the neighborhood – one-third of the students are residents of The Jordan and attend on scholarships; the rest of the youngsters live in the surrounding area.

The Jordan also adds to the community’s vibrancy through an inviting walkway that winds between the apartment building and one of the adjacent office buildings.  The ribbon-like greenway highlights the many contributions of one of Arlington’s most-loved leaders, Ellen Bozman. Ellen’s Trace could have been a narrow, nondescript and underutilized walkway sandwiched between an office building and an apartment building. Instead, the 25-foot wide by 230-foot-long space is a welcoming greenway with comfortable benches, splashes of colorful tilework and restful plantings. The spot adds a sense of cohesiveness to the block and brings together pedestrians, families, dog walkers and office workers who all enjoy the space.

A land swap that featured affordable housing was the glue that brought this mixed-income redevelopment to life. Today, hourly service workers live across the street from highly paid lawyers, send their children to school together, and sit side by side in the nearby park.

Photo: The Jordan, adjacent to office buildings and across the street from million dollar town homes, is the glue that helped bring the mixed-use, mixed-income redevelopment to life.  

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The Shell Named Multifamily New Construction Project of the Year at Sustainable Leadership Awards

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March 30, 2016 - The Shell received the award for Multifamily New Construction Project of the Year at the recent 2016 Sustainable Leadership Awards held in Richmond, VA.

The annual award recognizes the region’s premier developers, builders, architects, government officials and other industry professionals for their work in advancing the benefits of sustainable building.

The Shell is AHC’s third EarthCraft certified new construction project in Virginia. “We take pride in building our apartment communities to stand the test of time,” said Carlton Miller, AHC’s Vice President of Construction. “EarthCraft is a natural partner for us because we are both committed to creating a more efficient and healthy environment for our residents.”

The Shell, which opened for residents in 2015, provides 83 affordable apartments for families earning between 50% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) There are five efficiencies, 10 one-bedroom apartments, 63 two-bedroom units, and 5 three-bedroom apartments

Designed by Cunningham-Quill Architects and constructed by Harkins Builders, the six-story structure is built around a central, green courtyard. The building also features a green roof, a community center, a fitness room for residents, a management office and 6,600 square feet of retail space on the first floor along Columbia Pike.

Other project partners include: Arlington County, Virginia Housing Development Authority, Capital One Bank and Hudson Housing Capital.

About EarthCraft and Viridiant

The EarthCraft program was created in 1999 by a partnership between Southface Energy Institute and the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and was brought to Virginia in 2006. Operated by Viridiant in Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland, EarthCraft is a family of green building certification programs designed to address climate, energy and water issues unique to the southeastern United States. The program serves as a blueprint for energy and resource-efficient single-family homes, multifamily structures, renovation projects, community developments, light commercial buildings and sustainable preservation projects.

Viridiant is a non-profit organization committed to supporting sustainable building processes through education, consultation and certification. Through these efforts, Viridiant helps to set a path for businesses and homeowners to create structures that are more affordable, more liveable and more durable. Following 10 years of advocating for sustainable homes and buildings across the Commonwealth, EarthCraft Virginia took on the new name Viridiant, in order to serve an even broader range of goals.  Learn more at viridiant.org

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Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing in the mid-Atlantic region that provides quality homes and education programs for low- and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,000 apartment units in 52 properties in Virginia and Maryland. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 2,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.

 

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Patti Sanner & Rosemarie Harrington/Reading Specialists

AHC Faces

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Reading Specialists Help Struggling Readers Succeed

Patti Sanner and Rosemarie Harrington have helped dozens of children build literacy skills since they began working with AHC as part-time reading specialists nearly seven years ago. Each works one-on-one for about 30 minutes a week with children who have been identified as struggling readers.

Their dedication is one of the reasons AHC’s students are succeeding. Last year, all of the 28 students Patti and Rosemarie worked with improved at least a year’s worth of progress in their reading ability. Six struggling readers advanced more than a year. “If we catch the children at a young age, we can help them catch up,” explains Rosemarie. “It’s a joy to help them get over hurdles and to figure out how each child connects to reading.”

Patti believes the program’s team approach also contributes to children’s success. “It takes a village,” she says. “Everyone contributes to making learning more accessible and positive, from the managers to the volunteers. And because we work with different siblings over time, we are part of the families, too.”

Photo: Rosemarie Harrington (left) and Patti Sanner help bring the joy of reading to struggling readers.

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Investing in a Baltimore Neighborhood

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AHC Milestones

AHC Focuses $60 Million Investment in Baltimore’s Park Heights Neighborhood

In the last 15 years, AHC Inc. has invested nearly $60 million in Baltimore’s Park Heights neighborhood through four properties that provide more than 500 affordable homes for a variety of residents, including senior citizens, homebuyers, families and the disabled.

“AHC believes we can make a bigger impact in the community by focusing our investment in a specific area,” explains Andrew Vincent, AHC Greater Baltimore Director.  ”Providing more opportunities for quality affordable housing in a concentrated area can help tip the balance in a neighborhood and bring it to life.”

Located in the northwest corner of Baltimore City, Park Heights has been home for generations of West Baltimore families, local parks and churches. Over the years, the neighborhood has seen major disinvestment alongside small pockets of growth. The City of Baltimore has recently designated 49 acres of Park Heights as a Master Redevelopment Area, with the goal of redeveloping the area into a vibrant mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood.

AHC’s properties are concentrated on the southern part of Park Heights with Madeira, the most recent investment, on the edge of the Master Redevelopment Area. AHC purchased Madera in 2014 and recently completed extensive renovations, including new appliances, windows, central air conditioning and a new roof. The complex includes 47 apartments in four buildings. New landscaping is underway and families are moving into the bright, updated apartments.

AHC’s commitment to the neighborhood began with the purchase of Greenspring Overlook apartments in 2001. An extensive renovation of the 189-unit, aging garden apartment community was completed in 2002. Two thirds of the apartments serve families with two or three-bedroom apartments. Today a thriving program for residents provides education opportunities for children, financial and job training education for adults, and a variety of programs for senior citizens.

In 2008, AHC Greater Baltimore purchased and renovated MonteVerde – two 13-story buildings with 301 affordable apartments for seniors and non-elderly disabled residents. The $30 million development project transformed the run-down property and provided more community space, updated kitchens and baths, new windows and heating and cooling systems. A thriving program for residents helps build residents’ physical and mental health and improves individuals’ ability to age in place.

When AHC purchased MonteVerde, the road leading up to the apartment community, Violet Avenue, was full of abandoned, crumbling row houses. AHC decided to build on its commitment to the area and tackle the blighted block with a homeownership project called MonteVerde Rowe. The  investment focuses on a one-block area to maximize the impact. To date, AHC has purchased 2/3 of the block. Most of the houses have been completely renovated, with more in the works. The project has been slow going, but AHC is committed to investing the time and effort to make a difference. The dedication is beginning to pay off. So far, four first-time home buyers, including a nurse and a postal worker, have purchased homes and are putting down roots in the community.

Photo: MonteVerde Rowe is coming back to life with 2/3 of the block renovated. (Photo by Anice Hoachlander)