Looking Back on 2018

Take a look back at the year 2018 with Alexandria Housing Development Corporation! With groundbreakings at The Bloom'/Carpenter’s Shelter, continued progress at our future site at the Gateway (at the intersection of King and Beauregard), the launch of our first full year of residential services, and more - 2018 has been a year of growth and joy for AHDC. We wish you the best holiday season and look forward to our continued work on making housing more affordable in the City of Alexandria.

Top 5 News Items by Views, 2018:

  1. Gateway Update

  2. Sources of Funding for Affordable Housing

  3. AMI, Explained

  4. Can Alexandria's employees afford to live here

  5. Bloom Groundbreaking

2018 year in review.jpg

Affordable Housing Solutions: creative ways to make housing less expensive

City of Alexandria Office of Housing, 2017

City of Alexandria Office of Housing, 2017

The costs of housing – from the single-family home to multi-family apartment buildings – have been on the rise for decades. As the average income rose 33% since the year 2000, 1-BR rent costs rose by 94% and home values by 178%. Discrepancies that large require innovative solutions from every corner of our housing system: construction innovations, tools for homeowners, and public agencies alike. Here, we’ve detailed just a few of the more discussed solutions to create more housing solutions, in addition to further sources for reading.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – an owner-controlled affordability option

An ADU is a unit designed within an existing property that can be rented and occupied by someone other than the property owner – often called a “mother in law suite” or “granny flat”. These units can be built into basements of homes with ground level entrances, above garages, or as separate buildings on a single-family home lot. They feature their own kitchens, bathrooms, and living spaces. Such units are well suited for older family members and neighbors who are downsizing, single students and young workers, and young families. Additionally, the ADU itself can create a revenue stream for the owner, which would allow older home-owners to support a fixed income using their residential property.

ADU regulations are governed by jurisdictions, and are currently not permitted in Alexandria (though they are in Arlington, Fairfax, and D.C.).  Concerns addressed in ADU regulations typically consist of limits on overcrowding, allowable size by lot, HVAC and plumbing requirements, and other quality of life elements.

Read more on Arlington’s recent changes to ADU regulations (Washington Post)

Pre-fab building innovations – reducing housing costs in the construction process

Pre-fab, short for pre-fabricated, homes are made of parts produced in a factory and shipped to a site, for multi-family or single-family buildings alike. The benefits of factory production can include streamlined production and insulation from weather effects, allowing for faster (and thus more affordable) construction times. Assembly via crane, and features like interior and exterior finishes, are completed on site. Downsides to the prefabrication process include figuring out how to ship (and insure shipping on) large construction pieces, limited customization options, and local/state regulatory requirements that aren’t addressed by the prefab factory.

Read More from Forbes and the Washington Post.

Public-Private Partnerships and other joint efforts– creative partner solutions to “make land” for multi-family housing

While the need for more housing in our area is ever growing, land acquisition costs can be prohibitively high.

Public Private Partnerships (sometimes referred to as P3s) allow for multi-family developers to save on the costs of construction by partnering with public agencies for land or other supports. For example, if a public agency has an old office in a high-opportunity location, they may opt to redevelop their office and support the inclusion of new housing or other public goods elsewhere on the site. AHDC’s The Station is a prime example of this type of partnership: the Potomac Yard developers donated land to the Alexandria Fire Department, who in turn worked with AHDC to add housing above their new fire station. Other non-housing examples of this include the Silver Spring Library in Montgomery County, which combines a library facility with other private uses.

AHDC looks for creative housing solutions in the City of Alexandria - like The Bloom, our partnership with Carpenter’s Shelter, and The Gateway, affordable housing in a mixed-use development. Want to learn more about what we do? Sign up for our monthly newsletter to get news about AHDC property openings and updates, Alexandria housing news, and other industry developments!

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Amazon HQ2, Virginia Tech Innovation Campus come to NoVA; housing affordability tops conversation

With the announcement of Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington and the accompanying Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria, the region’s housing affordability issues in light of the corporate move have come to center stage. As our new neighbors (literally, in the case of the VT campus) settle in, AHDC is eager to join the conversation around how we make housing affordable for all here in Alexandria.

What’s coming with HQ2 and affordable housing (from hqnova.com):

  1. A commitment from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) to increase it’s rental program, homeownership program, and other allocations for NoVA.

  2. An estimated $7 million/year of additional affordable housing investments from Arlington, based on projected housing growth

  3. An estimated $1 million/year of additional affordable housing investments from the City of Alexandria from new revenue growth from the project

  4. The launch of the Washington Housing Initiative from JBG Smith, to both create new housing and fund other organizations who create new housing

Additionally, new state investments in our transportation network (including an expansion to the new Potomac Yard Metro Station entrances), K-12 STEM education, and in creating advanced tech degree programs at Virginia universities are also expected.

Where is AHDC located in this geography?

VT tech map.jpg

AHDC’s property The Station will be located across Route 1 from the new planned Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. Arbelo Apartments and The Bloom (opening 2020) are both located within a mile’s walking distance of the new campus as well.

Virginia Tech anticipates that 350,000 SF of it’s 1 million SF space will be set up as housing for students and faculty. Some students, and those who work the support jobs that come with a campus, will be looking to live in the area as well.

Resources about HQ2:

City of Alexandria’s official “National Landing” page

City of Alexandria Virtual Town Hall (Facebook Video)

The HQ NoVA proposal webpage, and its specific section about housing

Virginia Tech Innovation Campus - Location

The Washington Housing Initiative

News About HQ2:

Virginia Tech: Press Release about Innovation Campus

Alexandria Times: Amazon Selects Crystal City for HQ2

BisNow: A Look At Virginia Tech's $1B Potomac Yard Campus To Support Amazon

Greater Greater Washington: Crystal City is (probably) ready for HQ2’s transformation

Greater Washington Partnership (PDF): GWP Announces Launch of Regional Housing Framework

Fuller Institute:
What does Amazon’s HQ2 mean for the Washington Region’s Housing Market?

AHDC Board President wins "Housing Hero 2018" award for his work in Alexandria

AHDC’s Board President, Daniel Abramson of Abramson Properties, received one of the City of Alexandria’s “Housing Hero” awards last night in a ceremony at city hall. Danny has truly been a force for housing affordability in our neighborhoods. His work includes: chairing the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee, supporting the voluntary contribution to the city’s Housing Trust Fund, his exploration of public-private partnerships for new housing, and of course, his work in leading AHDC’s Board of Directors for over a decade.

We’re lucky to call him a part of the AHDC team. Congratulations, Danny, from all of us!

L-R: Councilman John Chapman, Mayor Allison Silberberg, Daniel Abramson, Vanessa Rodriguez, and Stephanie Oliver

L-R: Councilman John Chapman, Mayor Allison Silberberg, Daniel Abramson, Vanessa Rodriguez, and Stephanie Oliver