ANC Supports Senior Co-Housing at Boys and Girls Club

ANC sends motion supporting project to DMPED

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Conceptual drawing, Capitol Hill Cohousing. Image courtesy Century Associates/Eco Housing Corporation/Keystar Real Estate

At the Tuesday meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B, the commission voted in favor of a motion put forward by the Planning and Zoning Committee to support a proposal for a senior co-housing development at the site of the former Boys and Girls Club (261 17th St. SE).

Representatives from Century Associates and the other from Morningstar were on hand to present their proposals. The two developers presented to thad presented to the Hill East Task Force as well as the Planning and Zoning Committee of ANC 6B in the previous week.

The ANC motion supported the proposal from Century Associates, saying senior co-housing was more compatible with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan. The motion also requested that the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), which will determine the winning proposal, work with the developers for more clarity on how community space will work and be managed. It also asked that DMPED put additional emphasis on affordable housing in the RFP and land disposition process, including senior affordable housing under the Century Associates proposal.

The motion also suggested that if the Century Associates proposal is selected, DMPED should work the developer team to ensure a robust plan to engage existing low-income Capitol Hill residents to access affordable units in the building working with Capitol Hill Village.

The motion came after presentations from both developers.

Century Associates founder Joel Kelty presented plans for 29 units in a dedicated senior housing condominium. 30% of the units would be affordable housing, offered at 50% and 80% Area Mean Income (AMI). Each unit size range sfrom one to three bedrooms. There would be about a dozen below-grade parking spaces accessed by a mechanical lift, and about 1850 square feet of community space, the end use of which would be determined by the community.

Century Associates has a relationship with Capitol Hill Village. Members of Capitol Hill Village and supporters of the senior co-housing concept for the site attended the meeting wearing buttons.

At the meeting, the developer presented detailed floor plans but was less specific about the precise costs of units because they varied by unit size. The affordable units are offered at 50% AMI and 80% AMI. A two-bedroom sells for $113,000 at 50% AMI, and a two-bedroom at 80% AMI for $213,000. Market price units average about $514,000.

When pressed by Commissioner Krepp, Kelty said that his firm had focused on the provision of affordable housing. “The market rate units at the end of the day will be sold for whatever the market will bear, and we take all the risk on that,” he added, noting that it was extremely early in the process. He clarified that the average price, including the affordable units, was $545,000. Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk (6B01) said that the average for the market rate units would therefore be closer to $800,000.

Casey Klein of Morningstar Development presented the team’s plan. It calls for 31 housing units and 3000 square feet of community space, with about a dozen below-grade parking spaces. Klein said Morningstar is prepared to increase the affordable component of the development from 30% to 40% affordable housing.

Morningstar Development spoke to questions of unit pricing and size immediately, saying that the market units ranged in price from $382,625.07 up to a large three-bedroom for $741,762.26. The AMI units range from $110,997.41 for a smaller unit to a large two-bedroom priced at $248,342.77. Of the 31 units, eight are one bedroom units from 600 – 775 ft2, 12 are one bedrooms plus den, 818 – 915 ft2, nine are two-bedrooms 800 to 1150 ft2 and two three bedrooms of 1200 ft2.

DMPED has accepted two proposals to redevelop the Eastern Branch of The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington (261 17th St. SE). On Tuesday, ANC 6B voted to support a proposal to develop senior co-housing at the site.

In response to community feedback about the programming of community space, Klein said that Morningstar had reached out to non-profit partners. He said the team was prepared to fund the start-up costs for a community café up to $155,000. The café would occupy the smaller space rent-free in perpetuity and would, in concert with building management, take responsibility for programming the adjoining community meeting space.

In response to a question from Commissioner Samolyk, Klein said that his understanding of Fair Housing legislation was that while they were open to working with a community partner to ensure senior occupancy, a certain number of units could not legally be reserved for a demographic restricted by age within a development not designated as senior housing.

Community discussion asked about the preservation of the Wall of Fame within the building. Both developers said they intended to preserve the wall, featuring signatures and comments of famous visitors to the Boys and Girls Club and would do so in a publically accessible place if possible. Others voiced concern about the price of units, saying that many would not be able to afford to purchase the market units even after the sale of a townhouse, especially after paying taxes on capital gains.

Nonetheless, while the ANC acknowledged the efforts of both developers to respond to community input and concerns, the motion to support a proposal for Senior Housing was supported by the ANC by a vote of 6-0 with three abstentions. Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04) noted that she wished the motion had focused more on the aspects of the proposals that the ANC wished to endorse rather than the names of developers, an opinion that was seconded by Chair Chander Jayaraman (6B08).

On Thursday, Nov 16th DMPED will hold a Deposition Meeting at 7 p.m. at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave. SE), at which time community members can make comments on the project directly to DMPED.