Developers NRP and Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MCHDO) are proposing an entirely affordable project near Union Market.
A representative outlined the concept behind a proposal for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) at 301 Florida Ave. NE at a public meeting Wendesday. The proposed mixed-use project will include 115-120 entirely affordable units, Development Associate Chris Marshall of NRP told Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C.
Marshall said that the team seeks support at a very early stage, prior to discussing form and design, so they can apply for funds from Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD). A PUD application to the Office of Zoning the day before, requiring ANC support, is necessary for the application, he said.
The site is four blocks from Union Market and two blocks from NoMA Metro station, across the street from several developments in various stages of completion. Given its proximity to amenities, Marshall said the site is a “once-in-a-career opportunity.”
Commissioner Joel Kelty (6C05), himself a principal with developer Century Associates, said it is very unusual to see so much affordable housing on a site this well-connected, adding that the project could be held up as a model for other wards.
ANC 6C Planning, Zoning and Economic Development (PZ&E) Committee Chair Mark Eckenwiler (6C04) said that the site was subject of a PUD application approved in 2016. That PUD included 56 units with 4 affordable units and ground floor retail.
NRP was part of a team that also made a proposal for Bundle 1 in phase two of proposals for reservation 13. Their proposal, together with Argos Group, included a grocery store, senior living and day facilities, a clinic, job development and childcare centers and local retail space. It was ultimately rejected.
The NRP-MHCDO proposal for 301 Florida Ave. NE aims to offer up to 120 units at 30-50 AMI with some Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) set to be included. Marshall said the developers increased family-sized units to 21 percent 3-bedroom and 26 percent 2-bedroom after a conversation with Drew Courtney (6C06). 10 percent will be studio and 43 percent 1-bedroom units.
Although no concept designs were presented at the meeting, Marshall said that project will be at about equal height to other buildings on Florida Avenue, with ground floor retail but no parking.
Marshall showed charts indicating the annual mean wage of essential workers in DC, connecting them to the affordability levels of the units proposed for 301 Florida Ave. NE. “This is intended to be a project that meets a need for folks that live work and contribute to our community,” the NRP associate said.
Marshall said there will be future discussion once application is submitted, so this is a broad introduction. The reason the team is bringing it to the ANC was because the DCHD funding application is due, key, Marshall said, because such a project requires an ‘soft investment’ of 30 percent or more from sources like DCHD to succeed.
The set down hearing, at which the Zoning Commission decides whether the application meets the standards for a PUD, could be as early as Feb 2022, he added. After that the team would pursue further discussion about application with agencies, the community and the ANC.
There was strong support for the idea from commissioners. Commissioner for the area Drew Courtney offered his observations prior to the ANC unanimously endorsing a letter of support for the concept. “Obviously, we’ve been getting a front row seat on the affordability crisis in the District and the region,” Courtney said. His Single Member District includes both 301 Florida Ave. NE and the underpasses at L and M Streets NE, where a man in his ten was recently hit by heavy machinery during an encampment clearing.
Courtny said the letter was an opportunity to say ‘yes, in my back yard’. “We appreciate the opportunity to weigh in now and make clear it’s a priority for the community,” Courtney told Marshall at the meeting. “Not just building affordable housing in DC, but also building affordable housing right here.”