- Preserves 196 affordable housing units
- Supports Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan
- Is not expected to displace current tenants
- AHIF loan to non-profit to buy property
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Arlington County Board today approved a $16.5 million Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) loan to help AHC Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer, purchase Serrano Apartments at 5535 Columbia Pike.
Current rents for 239 of the Serrano's 280 units are considered affordable. But as the Pike continues to redevelop, there is no guarantee that those market-rate units (MARKs) will remain affordable.
As a condition of their AHIF loan, AHC has agreed that 196 of the units will become Committed Affordable Units (CAFs), contractually obligated to remain affordable for 60 years. Fifty-six of those units will be affordable at 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) and 140 will be affordable at 80 percent of AMI. Ten of the units will become supportive housing units for Department of Human Services clients. The remaining 84 units will continue to be rented at market rates.
“The County Board has committed to preserving affordable housing along Columbia Pike,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “This loan to AHC is in keeping with our commitment. These units now will remain affordable for generations of Arlingtonians – and help preserve the Pike's rich diversity as it is redeveloped into a more transit-oriented, walkable 'Main Street.' ”
The Board voted 4-0 to approve the loan to AHC. Board Member John Vihstadt recused himself, pursuant to Commonwealth of Virginia Code §2.2-3115.F.
Supports Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan
The AHIF loan helps carry out goals outlined in the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, which the County Board adopted in July 2012. It meets these specific Board-adopted goals from the plan:
- Retain or replace all 6,200 of the current MARKs with rents affordable to households earning between 60 and 80 percent of the AMI within the next 30 years.
- Create 400 committed affordable units at 80 percent of the AMI on the western end of Columbia Pike.
- Distribute the range of affordability levels over the entire Columbia Pike area and explore options for mixed-income properties.
- Increase the supply of affordable efficiencies and three or more bedroom units.
Potential for future development of affordable units
The property also includes 39,500 square feet of vacant land fronting on Columbia Pike. Carmel Properties, the current owner, has an application on file with the County to subdivide the property, which, under the Columbia Pike Form Based Code, would allow about 80 units to be built on the land. AHC will work with the County on potential development options, which could include additional affordable units.
AHC's purchase of Serrano Apartments is not expected to displace current tenants. Those who qualify as low-or-moderate income tenants will have the option to rent one of the committed affordable units. Those who earn more than 80 percent of the Area Median Income will have the option of renting a market-rate unit when one is available.
Remaking the Pike
Arlington County government has spent decades working with residents, commercial property owners, businesses, civic groups and other stakeholders along the Pike, to revitalize and re-envision the heavily traveled corridor as a more transit-oriented, walkable 'Main Street.' Those efforts are helping to make the Pike an even better place to live, work and play, as it seeks to preserve affordable housing and diversity. To learn more, visit the County website.
The Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) is the County's main financing program for affordable housing development. Since its creation in 1988, the AHIF has helped to create the majority of Arlington's more than 6,500 affordable rental units that benefit low-income households. In conjunction with the Affordable Housing Ordinance, this revolving loan fund give developers incentives to build and preserve affordable housing by offering low-interest, secondary loans for new construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable housing. Since 2000, more than $200 million in loans has been granted.
To read the staff report on this item, visit the County website. Choose the April 12 Arlington County Board Regular Meeting, and scroll down to Item #35 on the Agenda.