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.
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.