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AHC Inc. Opens 83 New Affordable Apartments on Columbia Pike

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Dozens of supporters, community residents and local officials celebrated the grand opening of The Shell on May 14 in Arlington, VA.

AHC’s newest building provides 83 affordable new homes along Columbia Pike for individuals and families earning between 50% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

The six-story apartment building includes 5 three-bedroom apartments, 63 two-bedrooms, 10 one-bedrooms and 5 efficiencies. Nine of the apartments are handicap accessible and six are part of the permanent supportive housing program of Arlington County.

The demand for affordable housing in Arlington continues to grow. Since 2000, Arlington County has lost 13,500 market affordable apartments. Reflecting the ongoing need, The Shell’s waiting list quickly grew to more than 650 individuals and families before AHC stopped accepting additional applications.

Planning for The Shell began when AHC discovered a gas station at the corner of Columbia Pike and South Greenbrier Street in Arlington was available for sale. Always on the lookout for potential building sites, AHC began exploring the idea of combining the gas station property with undeveloped land that it owned next door and adjacent to its Harvey Hall Apartments. Several years later, that idea became a reality.

Today, the building features an 800-square-foot community room, a fitness room, ample underground parking and a plant-filled central courtyard.

AHC also incorporated several green features at The Shell to reduce electricity consumption and water usage. The building has a green roof as well as Energy Star appliances, energy efficient heating and air conditioning, and WaterSense faucets, showerheads, and toilets. An on-site storm water filtration system was installed to reduce runoff and improve the quality of rain water draining into local waters such as the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

“AHC is committed to developing top-quality buildings that not only provide welcoming homes for working families, but also include architectural elements and energy-efficient features that improve our residents’ quality of life, enhance the community and stand the test of time,” said Walter D. Webdale, AHC President and CEO.

Located at a busy corner along Columbia Pike, the Shell also includes 6,600 square feet of retail space. The building was the first project to receive approval under Arlington’s innovative Form Based Code, which encourages a blend of housing and commercial spaces to create a lively, walkable community.

“As Columbia Pike redevelops, the County is working to ensure that the Pike continues to be a vibrant place for people at all ages, stages and incomes,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes.  “We’re proud that, by partnering with AHC using our affordable housing loan program (AHIF), our public-private partnership at The Shell will provide affordable housing AND retail for its residents and the greater neighborhood.”

Financing for the $32 million project included loans from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), Capital One, Virginia Housing Development Authority, AHC Inc., and 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity from Hudson Housing Capital. Other partners include NeighborWorks America and EarthCraft Virginia.

The Shell was designed by Cunningham l Quill Architects and built by Harkins Builders Inc.

View More Grand Opening Event Photos

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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 6,500 apartment units in 49 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.

AHC Inc. Boosts Housing Opportunities For Low- to Moderate-Income Families with $331 Million Invested in VA-MD-DC Region

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(January 23, 2015 – Arlington, VA) – Bucking the trend of apartment communities in the Washington region becoming less affordable, AHC Inc., a regional affordable housing developer, closed on eight multifamily transactions in 2014 with a total development value of  $331 million and containing more than 1,400 units — pushing AHC’s total multifamily portfolio above 6,500 units.

AHC also has two affordable apartment projects under construction – The 83-unit Shell in Arlington and the 78-unit Jackson Crossing in Alexandria.

“Not only is AHC broadening its reach in terms of the people we serve, but we are also working hard to create and implement innovative development strategies that go beyond traditional affordable housing financing tools to make us more nimble in today’s highly competitive marketplace,” said Walter D. Webdale, AHC President and CEO. “The reality is that the need for affordable housing continues to expand in our region for such disparate groups as senior citizens, working parents and recent college graduates. AHC’s goal is to leverage our 40 years of experience to create development opportunities and then execute those opportunities with the tools and resources that will get the job done.”

AHC’s 2014 projects include the acquisition of six existing rental communities containing 975 apartments, construction of 76 rental townhomes, and the redevelopment of an existing AHC-owned, 364-unit, historic property.  The apartments are primarily located in the metro region’s high cost-of-living rental submarkets in Arlington, VA and Montgomery County, MD, along with developments in the District of Columbia and Baltimore.  The properties provide homes for households with a variety of incomes, ranging from conventional affordability levels (50% and 60% maximum Area Median Incomes) to workforce housing (80% AMI) to full market-rate.

The projects utilized a variety of financing strategies, reflecting the challenges involved in assembling funding in the current marketplace. Several transactions were completed with innovative financing structures that relied heavily on market-rate tools and deal structuring techniques.

In Arlington, VA, for example, AHC partnered with such organizations as Freddie Mac, Arlington County and the Low-Income Investment Fund (LIIF) to create a financing structure that did not rely on the traditional affordable housing tools of Low Income Housing Tax Credits or tax-exempt bonds. The structure enabled AHC to move quickly in a competitive marketplace to successfully preserve two mixed-income properties with a total of 380 units near the gentrifying Columbia Pike area. And, in another non-traditional partnership, AHC joined with Housing Partnership Equity Trust (HPET), a social purpose real estate investment trust to acquire Woodleaf, a 228-unit apartment community in Silver Spring, MD.

AHC also made full use of existing affordable housing tools by pulling together funding from a variety of sources. For instance, AHC combined Low Income Tax Credits, tax-exempt bonds and Historic Tax Credits to finance the $110 million renovation of Woodbury Park, a 1940s historic garden-style community with 364 mixed-income apartments in Arlington, VA. The extensive financing package did not require local housing funds from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).

Along with more mixed-income projects, AHC’s 2014 developments also provide housing for a range of audiences, including a 55+ community in Silver Spring, a rental townhouse community for families in Baltimore’s southeast side, a Section 8 property in Baltimore City, and AHC’s first partnership in Washington, DC.

AHC’s 2014 projects included:

ahc-inc-Serrano-serrano-exterior-3xThe Serrano, Arlington, VA, $63.4 million, 280 units, mixed-income housing. The Serrano, 280-units in two buildings on Columbia Pike, is one of the first large-scale projects in Arlington to focus on workforce housing – half of the apartments will be affordable to households earning 80% Area Median Income (AMI). Twenty percent of the units (56) will be affordable to 60% AMI. The remaining 30% (84) will be unrestricted, market-rate homes. The innovative financing strategy did not rely on the traditional affordable housing financing tools of Low Income Housing Tax Credits or tax-exempt bonds. Instead, the plan included a senior loan guaranteed by Freddie Mac through Walker and Dunlop, subordinate debt from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) and an equity investment comprised of AHC funds plus funds borrowed by AHC from the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF).

ahc-inc-Spectrum-Apartments-Spectrum-exteriorThe Spectrum, Arlington, VA, $22 million, 100 units, mixed-income housingThe Spectrum is a 100-unit high-rise apartment complex on Arlington’s western edge. The building is a market-rate property with all rents currently affordable to families earning 65% to 85% AMI. AHC intends to preserve 80 of the 100 units as committed affordable units for families earning 50% to 80% of AMI. The remaining 20 units will remain unrestricted to help support the affordable apartments. An innovative subordinate debt structure with Arlington County, similar to that used at the Serrano, replaced the traditional financing tools. Financing also includes a first trust debt guaranteed by Freddie Mac and AHC equity.

ahc-inc-woodleafWoodleaf Apartments, Silver Spring, MD, $33.5 million, 228 units, workforce housingAHC partnered with Housing Partnership Equity Trust (HPET), a social purpose real estate investment trust created by the Housing Partnership Network, to acquire Woodleaf Apartments. The 228-unit apartment community is comprised of one and two-bedroom apartment homes in the White Oak area of Silver Spring. AHC’s purchase of Woodleaf in collaboration with HPET, will preserve affordable units at the property. HPET is the first affordable housing REIT created and managed by nonprofits; AHC is one of 12 nonprofit housing developers in the collaborative. Woodleaf is HPET’s first acquisition in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

ahc-inc-Woodbury-Park-Woodbury-Park---Best-9-08Woodbury Park, Arlington, VA, $110 million, 364 units, mixed-incomeAHC has begun a wholesale redevelopment of Woodbury Park,  a 1940s garden-style apartment community within ½ mile of two Metro Stations, multiple bus routes and a broad mix of retail options. The restoration of the property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, includes new major building systems, fixtures, appliances and finishes.  The property includes a mix of 204 income- restricted units and 160 market-rate apartments. Financing includes privately placed tax-exempt bonds issued by Arlington County Industrial Development Authority, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity and federal and state Historic Tax Credits. The financing package did not require local housing funds from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).

ahc-inc-Keys-Pointe-key's-PointeKey’s Pointe, Baltimore MD, $20.8 million, 76 rental townhomes, mixed-incomeAHC Greater Baltimore completed the first phase, 76 rental townhomes, of a massive revitalization of a 62-acre, 1940s public housing community on Baltimore’s southeast side. Half of the units are deeply affordable using a Project-Based Section 8 contract with 27 reserved for current and former public housing families.  The remaining units are affordable to families earning up to 50% of AMI. The homes are the first new development in the Southeast Baltimore neighborhood for many years. Partners in the project include The Michaels Development Company and the Housing Authority of Baltimore (HABC). Financing includes 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity, Rental Housing Funds from the State of Maryland and a long-term ground lease from HABC. The multi-phase project will ultimately create a mixed-income community with a blend of more than 900 rental and homeownership opportunities.

ahc-inc-Charter-House-02-Charter-House---web_eCharter House, Silver Spring, MD, $19.7 million, 212 units, mixed-income senior housing. Charter House is an age-restricted (55+), income-restricted apartment community in downtown Silver Spring within walking distance of the Silver Spring Metro Station. The property is financed with tax-exempt bonds and subordinated debt from the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The property includes a mix of incomes: 20% of the apartments are restricted to households earning up to 50% AMI, 55% of the units are for households earning up to 80% AMI and 25% of the apartments are unrestricted.

ahc-inc-maderaMadera Apartments, Baltimore, MD, $9 million, 47 units, 100% Project-Based Section 8 Housing. Madera is a 47-unit community with 13 one-bedroom and 34 two-bedroom apartments in Baltimore’s Park Heights neighborhood. An extensive rehabilitation is slated for 2015, including adding central air conditioning, new windows and doors, roof replacement, new wheelchair accessible units, Energy Star lighting and kitchen appliances. Financing included FHA insured mortgage, 4% Low-Income Tax Credit tax exempt bonds and funding from the Low-Income Investment Fund (LIIF).

ahc-inc-Key's-Pointe-Lincoln-Westmoreland-from-webLincoln Westmoreland, Washington, DC, $53 million, 108-unit renovation and 56 new units, affordable. AHC is partnering with Lincoln Westmoreland, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, to renovate its existing 108-unit high-rise building and construct a 56-unit affordable building on under-utilized adjacent land.  The projects will be financed with a combination of tax-exempt bonds, 4% Low-Income Tax Credit equity, owner equity and District of Columbia grants and subsidized loan. The project is AHC’s first partnership in Washington, DC. The development plan involves using a portion of the land of the 108-unit property to construct a new eight-story building with 56 apartments and ground-floor retail. Both properties will be 100% affordable at less than 60% Area Median Income.

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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 6,500 apartment units in 49 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.

Innovative Financing Strategies

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Financing and developing affordable housing is challenging – especially in dense urban areas like the Washington, DC, metro region. To become more nimble in today’s competitive market, AHC Inc’s multifamily development team is creating innovative financing strategies that go beyond traditional affordable housing tools.

In Arlington, VA, AHC partnered with such organizations as Freddie Mac, Arlington County and the Low-Income Investment Fund (LIIF) to create financing structures that did not rely on the traditional affordable housing tools of Low Income Housing Tax Credits or tax-exempt bonds. The strategy helped AHC move quickly in a competitive marketplace to successfully preserve two mixed-income properties, The Serrano and The Spectrum, with a total of 380 units near the gentrifying Columbia Pike area.

And, in another non-traditional partnership, AHC joined with Housing Partnership Equity Trust (HPET), a social purpose real estate investment trust (REIT), to acquire Woodleaf, a 228-unit apartment community in Silver Spring, MD — the first such partnership in the DC region. HPET is the first affordable housing REIT created and managed by nonprofits; AHC is one of 12 nonprofit housing developers in the collaborative.

AHC also made full use of existing affordable housing tools by pulling together funding from a variety of sources. For instance, AHC combined Low Income Tax Credits, tax-exempt bonds and Historic Tax Credits to finance the $110 million renovation of Woodbury Park, a 1940s historic garden-style community with 364 mixed-income apartments in Arlington, VA. The extensive financing package did not require local housing funds from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF).

Photo: Woodleaf in Silver Spring was the first acquisition by a social purpose real estate trust in the DC region.

Tutor’s Dedication + Student’s Determination = Success

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Israel Weldeslassie only began speaking English about a year ago when he moved to Arlington from Eritrea. Despite having to learn a new language and reading at about a first grade level, the 7th grader is making amazing progress and is enthusiastically optimistic about his new life.  Much of his success is due to his AHC tutor, Steven Rentz.

The pair has formed a fast friendship. Steven works with Israel twice a week through AHC’s Teen Tutoring program and then meets with him for another two hours on Saturday.  “Steven is making a huge difference to Israel’s progress,” said Julie Korona, AHC’s Resident Services Manager. “He is outstanding!”

“Volunteering is in my blood,” explained Steven, an instructional technology specialist at the National Cathedral School. “I chose AHC’s program because it’s small and everyone can interact and get involved. I really like the opportunity to work one on one.”

Israel is catching on quickly. He is gobbling up books like Curious George and clearly enjoys the nuances of the English language. He has big ambitions and would like to be an engineer and build houses when he grows up. His determination along with Steven’s dedication will undoubtedly help make that dream come true.

 Photo: Israel and his tutor Steven Rentz have formed a fast friendship.

Volunteers Create Scholarship for AHC Students

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Long-time (11 years!) volunteers Joanna Miller and Roger Brown have created a scholarship exclusively for AHC students in 2014. They presented the first-ever merit scholarship  to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s education programs since 2nd grade. Sivia is now attending the University of Mary Washington.

The scholarship fund, which is managed by the Arlington Community Foundation, provides $2,000 a year for four years to a student in AHC’s educational program. “We felt like we wanted to do something else to help the students as they reach this milestone and move on to the next stage of their lives,” said Miller.

Brown and Miller hope others will contribute to the fund to provide additional scholarships in the years ahead. For more information, contact the Arlington Community Foundation at 703-243-4785.

Photo: Joanna Miller and Roger Brown presented the first-ever AHC Inc. scholarship to Sivia Campos, who has participated in AHC’s programs since 2nd grade.