325 affordable apartments possible with NoMa development

A District-owned parking lot in NoMa may be turned into an apartment building with half of the units reserved for families below D.C.’s median income.

If the proposal is approved by the D.C. Council, a joint venture of local real estate entities would construct a residential building at 2 Patterson St. NE. The building would have 580 units, 325 of which would be affordable for a range of income levels. The joint venture would sign a 99-year lease with the District, Patrick Pendelton Smith, development manager at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, said. Pendelton Smith testified on Oct. 14 at a D.C. Council committee hearing.

Josh Olsen, executive vice president of Monument Realty, said during the hearing the project would bring 48 affordable units for renters making up to 30% of the Median Family Income (MFI) — $39,000 for a family of four — 147 for those making up to 50% MFI — $65,000 for that family —and 130 for those making up to 80% — $103,000 for that family.

Of those affordable units, 10 would have four bedrooms, 37 would have three bedrooms, and 30 would have two bedrooms. These specifications won’t be finalized until the D.C. Council approves the project and the developer signs the affordability covenant. Affordable housing advocates have criticized the lack of “family-sized units” in many recent developments. Those larger apartments with three and four bedrooms better fit the needs of families with several children and possibly a grandparent.

The 2 Patterson St. NE development would generate more affordable housing in an area undergoing rapid development. If the District were to sell the parking lot to developers at the fair market rate, it would appraise at $17.5 million. That’s according to DMPED. But instead of a market rate, the District is offering a 99-year lease for $1, effectively subsidizing the creation of affordable homes in a community with grocery stores, shopping, and restaurants.

“It’s part of the NoMa neighborhood, which has seen tremendous growth ever since the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro station opened in 2004, and this is one of the larger undeveloped parcels left in the neighborhood,” Olsen said. He added that the ground floor would feature 4,500 square feet of “community-serving space.” At the request of ANC 6C, the developers would also create a new park on a closed portion of N Street north of the project, and a courtyard accessible to the public.

Pendelton Smith said the project is expected to generate about $56.9 million in permanent tax revenue over 30 years, create 779 temporary jobs through the construction period, and create 149 permanent jobs upon completion. Councilmember Robert White noted only an estimated 41 of the permanent jobs would go toward District residents.

White, who chairs the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, questioned Pendelton Smith during the hearing on DMPED’s process for deciding how to use the land. He asked about meeting the needs of people experiencing homelessness in and around NoMa, such as at the encampment at a park on New Jersey Avenue and O Street NW.

“I wonder if 2 Patterson could’ve been put to any use, now or in recent years, that might’ve helped get those residents who are living in that park into housing,” White said. “Has DMPED analyzed whether there could be some housing opportunities for homeless individuals there?”

Pendelton Smith, from the District, didn’t directly answer the question. He said 48 of the units would be “deeply affordable,” referring to the units for those families making up to 30% MFI. Homeless residents could move into those units, provided they benefited from additional subsidy.

White asked if the District had considered using the property for replacement housing for Temple Courts, a nearby affordable housing community with 211 units that was torn down in 2008. Pendelton Smith said “all replacement housing had been accounted for” before the District designated 2 Patterson as surplus. However, only 137 of those units have been completed, according to a follow-up email from DMPED to White’s office.

The SeVerna and SeVerna on K — two residential buildings located at 1st and K Streets Northwest — provided 30 and 48 replacement units, respectively, after the latter’s completion in winter 2014, according to the email. The 2M Apartments — a residential building across the street from 2 Patterson St. NE — provided an additional 59 units in fall 2014. There are still an estimated 211 replacement units from Northwest One — a District-supported development at K and North Capitol Streets NW — that will be completed in phases in the next few years, ending with phase 3 in 2026.

The recent surge in development in NoMa can be seen in the housing construction that surrounds the lot. At least three buildings are under construction in the area, but many don’t have affordable housing, unlike 2 Patterson St. NE.

The 2 Patterson St. NE project is tied to two resolutions — one to transfer the property to the developer and one to approve the specific development plan. The earliest they would go before the full council for a vote is Dec. 7. If the resolutions are approved, the city would bring on the developer to negotiate the land disposition agreement, Pendelton Smith said. Then the 99-year lease would be executed at closing. If the lease is signed, ground-breaking would begin in fall 2023 and the building would be completed in spring 2026. 

Issues |Development

Region |NoMa

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