Photo: Residents, partners, housing officials and local lawmakers, including City of Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg, helped cut the ribbon at the grand opening of St. James Plaza. Photo credit: Nick Crettier Photography
April 16, 2018
Local lawmakers, partners, community supporters and residents joined AHC Inc. to cut the ribbon on St. James Plaza, which delivers 93 new affordable apartments to the City of Alexandria’s Beauregard neighborhood.
Working together, nonprofit developer AHC Inc. and the City of Alexandria successfully transformed three acres previously owned by St. James United Methodist Church into a vibrant, mixed-use, mixed-income community with an onsite pre-school operated by The Campagna Center. Families began moving into St. James Plaza in mid-March.
With affordable housing increasingly difficult to find in Northern Virginia, the St. James Plaza waiting list topped 2,600 people by the beginning of March. According to information published by the City of Alexandria’s Office of Housing, the number of market-affordable rental units in the City of Alexandria has declined 90% between 2000 and 2017.
To help subsidize the cost of the land for the affordable apartment building, AHC Inc. sold half of the site to Craftmark, a McLean-based homebuilding company. Craftmark is building 31 two- and three-bedroom market-rate townhomes adjacent to AHC’s apartment building.
“Finding developable land and putting together the financing to create quality affordable housing is a complex challenge,” said AHC Inc. Board Vice-Chair John V. Snyder. “This project is a living example of how local government, a nonprofit and a market-rate developer can work together to create a welcoming community with a variety of housing opportunities.”
The City of Alexandria approved a $5.7 million development loan to partially fund construction of the affordable building. AHC Inc. also received $19 million in competitive 9% Low-income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) equity through the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) competitive process.
“As housing affordability is harder to find in our region, the City of Alexandria is glad to make investments that help residents secure quality, affordable apartments,” said Mayor Allison Silberberg. “Partnering with nonprofits, like AHC Inc., reflects the City’s commitment to remaining inclusive and diverse by successfully creating mixed-income communities.”
The new development also includes an Early Learning Center, operated by The Campagna Center, with capacity to serve 50 children ages three to five across three classrooms. The Campagna Center has offered quality educational programming and services in Alexandria for over 50 years. The Early Learning Center will open in September.
“The Campagna Center is excited to launch a new preschool in the Beauregard neighborhood–the second we have placed in an AHC Inc. community — and is eager to build connections with neighbors, local employers, and the nearby community college,” said President and CEO Tammy L. Mann. “Our ability to co-locate a quality preschool within a vibrant, diverse residential community helps families access vital early learning opportunities and extends our impact throughout Alexandria.”
St. James Plaza will include a mix of efficiencies and one- two- and three-bedroom apartments for households with incomes between 40% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). A family of four, for instance, qualifies with a maximum household income between $46,880 (40% AMI) and $70,320 (60% AMI). The rent for a two-bedroom apartment will range from $920 (40% AMI) to $1,447 (60% AMI).
The property will also include underground parking, a fitness center, and a community room for residents. The building will meet the highest EarthCraft environmental certification.
In addition to the City of Alexandria, development partners include Capital One Bank, Hudson Housing Capital, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), NeighborWorks and NeighborWorks Capital. Designed by Cunningham-Quill Architects, the five-story building was constructed by Harkins Builders.
St. James Plaza is AHC’s second development in Alexandria. Jackson Crossing, with 78 affordable apartments, opened in 2016 on Route 1 near Potomac Yard.
A third project, in partnership with the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, is on the drawing board. The Alexandria City Council approved the 113-unit project and a loan of up to $9 million in January 2018. The project is subject to AHC receiving low-income housing tax credits later this year through the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).
About AHC Inc.
AHC Inc., a nonprofit developer based in Arlington, VA, builds and preserves affordable and mixed-income housing in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. Since 1975, AHC has developed more than 8,200 apartments in the mid-Atlantic region, including 3,400 in Arlington. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches thousands of children, teens, adults, and seniors each year through onsite education and social service programs and activities.
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