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Washington, D.C., Mayor Breaks Ground on City's First 'Our RFP' Housing Effort

Mon March 07, 2022 - National Edition
Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser

Construction will soon get under way on the District of Columbia's first "Our RFP" project, a mixed-use and 98 percent affordable apartment building, featuring 110 units and ground floor retail space at 7th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue in Washington's Ward 2.

On Feb. 26, Mayor Muriel Bowser was joined at the Shaw neighborhood site by members of the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA), DC leaders and community members to break ground on the project at Parcel 42.

"When we engage the community early, then we can deliver a project that people are excited about — and that's what we're doing here at Parcel 42," Bowser noted in a press release from her office. "This is a project that has gone through several mayors, and I'm proud that today we can begin the transformation of this vacant lot into much-needed affordable housing."

She added that the project brings the district 110 housing units closer to its goal of 12,000 new affordable homes by 2025.

Parcel 42, a project that originally started in 2007 and has since been vacant for most of that time, will consist of studio units as well as one-and two-bedroom apartments. Two units will be market-rate, while the remaining 108 apartment homes will be reserved for residents earning up to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), with the majority reserved for those earning 60 percent or less AMI.

On-site amenities will include retail space, amenity space serving retail, a management office, fitness room, penthouse clubroom and five central laundry rooms.

Residents Involved in Housing Designs

The project is being developed by Dantes Partners and the H Street Community Development Corp. to be DC's first "Our RFP" effort — one that incorporated community engagement early in the design.

"Our RFP" also is an approach to developing requests for proposals (RFPs), implemented in Bowser's first term, that engages residents to ensure that their needs, wants and priorities are understood and taken into consideration before crafting the RFP.

It is estimated the project will support approximately 33 permanent jobs, with 30 percent filled by D.C. residents, and another 200 construction jobs, half of which to be taken by D.C. residents.

Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks with the work slated to be finished in 2024.

"Parcel 42 has been discussed for years, but because of Mayor Bowser's leadership and the hard work of [my] team, 108 units of affordable housing are on their way in this amenity rich neighborhood," said John Falcicchio, deputy mayor of planning and economic development (DMPED) in the press release.

"We're proud that despite various twists and turns, the project — which was the first to utilize the innovative, community-driven approach known as ‘Our RFP' — will advance and deliver long promised housing and amenities."

Financing Came from Many Quarters

The project is financed via land provided through the DMPED administered disposition, as well as through Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity provided by Wells Fargo Affordable Housing Community Development Corp., and D.C. tax credits.

DCHFA issued $29.46 million in tax exempt bonds and underwrote $24.58 million in LIHTCs for the construction of the 108 affordable apartment homes and two market-rate units, according to info in press statement from Bowser's office.

Additional financing for Parcel 42 comes from a $15.6 million loan from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, which earmarks more than $2 billion in below-market loans and grants to preserve and create more than 20,000 affordable housing units in the Arlington/Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, in addition to Washington state's Puget Sound region and Nashville, Tenn.

"As a proud resident of the District of Columbia, I am so happy the Amazon Housing Equity Fund will help bring more affordable housing to the Shaw community," said Catherine Buell, director of the fund. "We applaud D.C.'s dedication to working with the community to find innovative and inclusive solutions. The people who live here have waited patiently for many years for the right project that includes affordable housing options for families across the income spectrum."

Christopher E. Donald, executive director, and CEO of DCHFA, also explained that "Mayor Bowser was the first to set housing goals by ward, and DCHFA is committed to helping the city reach those goals. Ward 2 has seen significant market-rate residential development, so this community will ensure residents at various income levels can live in healthy, beautiful and affordable housing right here in the Shaw neighborhood."

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