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AHC Inc. “Flips the Switch” on Largest Multifamily Solar Installation in Northern Virginia

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Celia Slater, AHC Inc., 571-228-5948, celia.slater@ahcinc.org
Adam Segel-Moss, Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, Asegel-moss@Arlingtonva.us
Tom Weaver, Prospect Solar, 703-675-9024, Weavert@prospectsolar.com

AHC Inc. “Flips the Switch” on  Largest Rooftop Solar Array on a Multifamily Residence in Northern Virginia

(Arlington, VA – Oct. 22, 2020) AHC Inc., in partnership with Arlington County, “Flipped the Switch” on 342 solar panels at The Apex, a new 256-unit affordable apartment community on the banks of Four Mile Run in South Arlington, VA. The 130 KW installation is the largest solar panel array on a multifamily apartment building in Northern Virginia. The event took place during AHC Inc.’s Annual Meeting on October 20, 2020.

“AHC is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and to Arlington’s Community Energy Plan, while at the same time improving our residents’ quality of life,” said AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to reduce our operating expenses while also cutting back on carbon emissions. Converting a portion of our energy source to renewables is a win for everyone – the community, our residents, and for us.”

Along with providing technical assistance to support the solar installation at the property, Arlington County allocated up to $20.6 million in loan funds from the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund to help construct the apartment community.

“The Apex project shows that affordable housing and sustainability can be woven together beautifully to create a climate of change,” said Claude Williamson, Director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development for Arlington County. “Energy efficient construction and solar power are important for containing the costs of affordable living and to reach Arlington’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. We look forward to working hand in hand with our entire community to create and maintain more sustainable, affordable housing for the future.”

The solar panels work by converting energy from the sun into electricity. The Apex solar array will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 11 single-family homes over the course of the year. The electricity generated is used to offset common area energy usage, cutting down on greenhouse emissions. This means the lights, elevators, fitness equipment, and electricity to the apartment community’s leasing office will all be powered by solar energy. 

“It’s no secret that housing in the DC metro area is expensive, so there is certainly a need for more affordable housing communities like The APEX!” says Andrew Skinner, Prospect Solar Vice President. Utility bills are usually one of the largest and most volatile portions of an affordable housing development’s budget. Stabilizing utility bills through solar and other measures makes it easier to maintain operating budgets, retain resident services and avoid raising rents. We applaud AHC for being an industry leader and jumping out ahead of the curve and showing the industry that low and middle-income (LMI) projects work in Virginia.  As the solar industry grows in the state of Virginia, it is critical that those that benefit the most from renewables (LMI communities) have access to the benefits.” 

The Apex also includes a variety of other energy efficient features, earning the property an EarthCraft Gold designation. The EarthCraft program certifies homes that are sourced, constructed and designed to reduce environmental impacts.

Building Highlights

  • High efficiency Water Sense toilets, showerheads, and faucets
  • Energy-Efficient LED lighting
  • ENERGY STAR appliances, HVAC, and water heating systems
  • Enhanced insulation and air sealing to eliminate transfer of air between units and the outside environment
  • Reduced impervious (paved) area, which reduces runoff 80% and helps protect the adjacent Four Mile Run
  • Reflective roofing that creates a cooler environment around the building
  • Native and drought tolerant plantings in the landscaping
  • Protected bike storage

AHC began welcoming residents to the new property in Spring 2020. The 4.6 acre project is significant because it complements Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan by providing affordable apartments in a neighborhood that has a lower share of affordable housing.

The redevelopment includes a broader mix of housing options and apartment sizes than most affordable projects. Along with much-needed affordable housing, The Apex includes housing for households that earn 40% to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The apartment community also provides a large number of apartments for families – 81% of the new homes will have two or three bedrooms.

Other positive community benefits include space for resident services, fitness room, playground and outdoor sport court.

The project’s financing includes up to $20.6 million in funds from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF). The redevelopment also won $2.5 million in 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), which will provide approximately $24 million in equity financing. The highly competitive federal program, designed to encourage the development of affordable rental housing, is administered through Virginia Housing (previously the Virginia Housing Development Authority). The project also received approximately $1 million in 4% LIHTC tax credits, which will generate roughly $10 million in equity. NeighborWorksAmerica helped fund pre-development costs.

Project partners include Arlington County; Capital One; Harkins Builders; Hudson Housing; Klein Hornig, LLP; Michael T. Foster Architects; NeighborWorks America; Walter L. Phillips, Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.; Virginia Housing Development Authority; and Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, P.C.

Images and Videos

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About AHC Inc. Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing that provides quality homes and education programs for low- and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,500 apartment units in 50+
properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through on-site education and social service programs and activities. For more information, visit https://www.ahcinc.org/  

About Arlington County
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation’s Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America’s preeminent places to live, visit and do business. https://www.arlingtonva.us/

About Prospect Solar
Prospect Solar is committed to safely delivering the Sun’s energy to power homes, businesses, and communities. Since 2010, Prospect Solar has engineered, installed, and maintained solar energy systems in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. https://www.prospectsolar.com/


Photo credit: Jeffrey Sauers, CPI Productions

AHC Annual Meeting on October 20

 

Thank you to all who joined us for AHC’s Annual Meeting. Although we would have preferred to be with you in person, we were delighted to connect with so many colleagues, supporters, partners and volunteers – both familiar and new.

With stable and affordable housing even more important in today’s challenging times, we are truly grateful for your support.

Together we can continue to provide more housing and hope to needy families and individuals throughout our region.

In case you missed the meeting or would like to revisit some of the information, here are links to the individual sections:

  • COVID-19 and housing. A lively discussion of the impact of COVID-19 on local housing trends with NPR’s Ally Schweitzer and AHC Board member Wanda Pierce (19:43 mins)

  • Inside peak at The Apex. Get a look at The Apex, AHC’s newest affordable apartment community, along with updates on AHC’s recent and upcoming developments (5:07 mins)

  • Resident Services during COVID-19. A look at how our Resident Services team is working nonstop to help our residents stay housed and stable (3:41 mins)

  • Volunteers are our “Secret Sauce.” A look at some amazing volunteers (including our residents) who are generously donating their time and energy to help others through the pandemic (3:37 mins)

  • “Flip the Switch.” Watch us “Flip the Switch” on our first solar installation. The partnership with Arlington County is the largest solar array on a multifamily residence in Northern Virginia. (1:47 mins)

  • Complete meeting. Watch the whole meeting – complete with trivia questions and more information on AHC and affordable housing in our community. (46:01 mins)

 

Fort Henry Redevelopment Responds to Neighborhood Needs

 

AHC Inc. has started the process of redeveloping Fort Henry Gardens, an aging garden-style apartment community with 82 two- and three-bedroom apartments in Arlington, VA. The current Fort Henry Gardens was built in the 1960s and is in need of an update. 

The proposed plan includes 26 three-bedroom apartments and 149 two-bedroom units for families and 120 one-bedroom apartments and 5 studios to serve individuals and couples. Altogether, the new Fort Henry Gardens could add an additional 200 new affordable apartments in response to the pressing need for more affordable living options in the County.

“We’re excited about redeveloping Fort Henry Gardens because it’s an aging property and this is an opportunity to provide new, energy efficient homes to hardworking families and individuals who need affordable, quality places to live in Arlington,” said Walter D. Webdale, AHC President and CEO.  “The redevelopment is also giving us the opportunity to provide homes to a wider variety of individuals, including more one bedroom apartments for seniors, which the community mentioned as a real need.”

After input from the community, AHC has added a number of features designed to benefit to neighborhood and our residents. Some of the ways AHC responded to community requests include:

  • Designating the proposed 48-unit building on Lincoln St. to be a senior building after we learned from community members of this need and long-time desire.
  • Almost doubling the size of our on-site community center in response to the need expressed from our AHC Green Valley residents. We currently have a robust Resident Services program at Fort Henry in a fairly small community center. The new space will give our students more room for indoor learning activities and also provide an opportunity to explore additional ways to build community.
  • Committing a healthy portion of our site to outdoor gathering and recreational uses in response to this request from the Civic Association.
  • Designing for solar panels in response to the County’s desire for renewable energy.

Other project highlights include:

  • Improved accessibility – apartments will be fully accessible with elevators, ADA bathrooms, and designed to meet universal design standards.
  • New fitness center.
  • Two playgrounds
  • Energy efficient appliances.

Another goal for the property is to create an inviting mix of outdoor spaces that will encourage a cohesive sense of community. Some areas will be small and intimate, while others will allow for larger gatherings. Additionally, there will be three areas on the site that are open lawns bordered by tall shade trees. Two will include play equipment for children of pre-school to elementary school age. These play areas are meant to complement the existing recreational field at Drew Elementary School.

AHC submitted the initial site plan application to the planning and zoning department in May 2020. In August, we received comments and made adjustments. The next step is the Site Plan Review Process, which we anticipate will last through this Fall. The County Board could provide zoning approval by January 2021. If all goes forward, we could begin construction in Spring 2022. Full occupancy could occur in Spring 2024.

We will continue to meet with the Green Valley Civic Association and other neighbors throughout the process. Our last meeting with our residents was virtual, unfortunately, but we offered two sessions – one in English and one in Spanish. We also provided Amharic translation for anyone who requested it.

 

Affordable Housing Redevelopment Wins $2M in Competitive Tax Credits and $8M in AHIF Loan Funds from Arlington County

Located on the eastern end of Columbia Pike, Arlington View Terrace is a garden-apartment style community with seven two- and three-story red brick buildings. AHC is working on a redevelopment that will demolish the largest building on the site, which includes 30 apartments, and replace it with a new EarthCraft Certified Gold structure with 77 apartments.

The $38 million project continues to move forward.  In June, Arlington View Terrace East won an allocation of $2.03 million in competitive tax credits from Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA), which will generate $19 million in tax credit equity. The Arlington County Board allocated $8.23 million in funding to help redevelop AHC Inc.’s Arlington View Terrace apartment community at 1420 South Rolfe Street. The allocation includes a $7.25 million loan from the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) and $984,000 of Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) grant funds.

Once completed, the expanded apartment community will provide affordable homes to 124 individuals and families earning between 30% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which ranges from $36,400 to $72,780 for a family of four, for 75 years.

“The Arlington View Terrace redevelopment enables AHC to add much-needed affordable living opportunities in a rapidly gentrifying area along Columbia Pike, said AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale. “The new building will also help diversify housing options with 15 new three-bedroom apartments, eight fully accessible units and 10% of the new apartments designated for households earning no more than 30% AMI,” said AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale.

AHC is also exploring solar panels and a possible partnership with Connect Arlington to provide free Wi-Fi for residents at the site.

“As Arlington faces an ongoing challenge to provide adequate affordable housing, the Arlington View Terrace project is an innovative approach to not only preserving affordability, but also addressing environmental and equity issues,” said Arlington Board Chair Libby Garvey.  

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 7,500 apartments in the mid-Atlantic region, including nearly 4,000 in Arlington. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education and social service programs and activities.

 

2019 – A Year of Building Homes and Community

2019 has been a busy year as AHC continues our mission of developing affordable homes and helping communities thrive. This year, AHC Inc. was recognized as one of the top 50 affordable housing developers in the country by Affordable Housing Finance magazine. As we approach our 45th anniversary, AHC provides more than 7,500 affordable apartments at 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and DC.

AHC’s Resident Services programs and community partnerships also continue to grow to better meet the needs of the children, families and seniors we serve. We currently reach more than 3,000 residents each year.

AHC’s 2019 accomplishments include:

Building and Preserving Homes

  • Topped off The Apex that will welcome 256 families in Arlington in 2020.
  • Broke ground on The Spire, 113 new homes in 2021, with our partner Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Alexandria.
  • Celebrated the renovation of two older garden-style apartment communities – Colonial Village West in Arlington and Lafayette Apartments in Fairfax.
  • Started the process to upgrade our oldest property in Baltimore, Greenspring Overlook, which provides homes for 189 families.
  • Continued to work with PN Hoffman, City Partners and Paramount on large-scale Waterfront Station in Southwest DC.
  • Partnered with Housing Authority of Baltimore City and The Michaels Organization to redevelop Poe Homes, a 1940s seven-acre project in Southwest Baltimore.
  • Expanded presence in Montgomery County with acquisition of 48-unit Brookside View. The approximately $6.1 million total development cost was financed completely with private funds.

Building Community

  • Hosted a Faith and Housing Round Table that included HUD Secretary Ben Carson, other nonprofit developers and the City of Alexandria.
  • Selected to participate in Amazon’s Employee Match Campaign, which allocates up to $5 million to 20 housing and homelessness nonprofits in DC and Seattle.
  • Created a safety initiative in Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood, which includes community partners and volunteers living in AHC’s affordable apartment communities.
  • Returned $4.9 million to Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF). The AHIF loan fund is an invaluable tool for affordable housing development.
  • Offered our annual Women’s Empowerment Conference that inspired Baltimore residents to connect and overcome obstacles.

Housing + Education = Success

  • Initiated Career Fairs for middle and high school students with a wide range of professionals. Several students have already turned the opportunity into internships and job shadowing.
  • Celebrated 15 volunteers who have worked with our students for five years!
  • Honored three Community Builder volunteers who generously volunteered their time with AHC students and helped expand our programs’ reach.
  • Graduated 24 high school students who were all the first in their family to attend college. Together, the group earned more than $600,000 in scholarships and grants.
  • Persisted in college at above average rates. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 84% of AHC students stick with college and graduate. This compares to 56% of first-generation students and 74% of students with college-educated parents!
  • Helped stabilize 231 families through eviction prevention services.
  • Distributed 1,000 backpacks to youth living at AHC properties in Arlington.

Awards and Achievements

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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 7,500 apartment units in 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education programs and activities.