Archer Park Breathes New Life into Congress Heights

A New Development Will Transform an Empty Lot into Affordable Housing

By 2017 residents of Congress Heights will see Archer Park, a 190-unit, affordable housing development, take the place of an empty lot on the 1200 block of Mississippi Avenue just three blocks from the Congress Heights Metro Station. WC Smith is developing the Ward 8 site, formerly home to the Trenton Terrace apartments, which were razed in 2004.

As the first phase of redevelopment for the site, Archer Park will include 190 units affordable to residents with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). At least 14 units will be rented to families or individuals earning 30 percent or less of the AMI. Residents will have access to free assigned parking spaces in the 128-car garage as well as 80 bicycle-parking spaces. The two buildings, of four stories each, will be connected by a one-story center structure that includes a fitness room, business center, and meeting room.

In September the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determined that the median income for FY2015 in the Washington, DC, area was $109,200 for a family of four. Units at Archer Park would have to be priced so that a family of four making $65,520 or less would spend no more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent.

“Archer Park is a continuation of the work that WC Smith has done in Ward 8, including Parklands, THEARC, and cleaning up Oxon Run Park,” said Brad Fennell, senior vice president of WC Smith, in a statement to East of the River. “We are very excited to be bringing 190 new affordable apartments to the neighborhood.” WC Smith has a footprint in Ward 8, where it has renovated the 84-unit Park Vista just across the street as well as 19 units of permanent supportive housing at 1320 Mississippi Ave.

The new building is being constructed to meet DC green building standards and will include a green roof and solar panels. The solar panels will produce at least a portion of the building’s electrical power. Theproject’s designer is SK+I Architect.

The two-phase project begins with Archer Park’s 190 rental units and will be followed eventually by a 74-unit development of for-sale townhouses. The first phase of the project should be complete by September 2017. The for-sale units, both market-rate and affordable, will be sited to the north of Archer Park. The second phase is in pre-development stage and will be developed by a yet-unnamed national homebuilder other than WC Smith.

The District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) is providing funding for acquisition and construction through $28.2 million in DCHFA short- and long-term tax-exempt bonds. Financing also comes from equity raised through syndication of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) to the tune of $19.6 million.

Shaun Courtney is a freelance reporter and real estate writer. Shaun has called DC home since 2002 and now lives in Ward 7’s Kingman Park with her husband and son.

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