Together, Level 2 and Habitat for Humanity have secured sites for 12 of 13 planned affordable homes in Ivy City
The partnership allows Level 2 to reimagine affordable housing requirements under current zoning regulations with more impactful results
WASHINGTON, October 12, 2015 — D.C-based Level 2 Development (Level 2) is on track to exceed its off-site affordable housing public benefit for its Planned Unit Development (PUD) The Highline at Union Market at 320 Florida Ave., N.E., furthering its goal to create more impactful affordable housing than would typically be required under zoning regulations.
Under a plan unanimously approved by the Zoning Commission in a bench decision at the project’s Final Action hearing on July 13, 2015, Level 2 proposed to shift half (7,747 square feet) of its required on-site affordable units that were designated for households earning up to 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) to 13 new off-site homes, which would total 13,747 square feet and be sold to households earning an average of no more than 50 percent AMI. The off-site homes are to be built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. (DC Habitat), with Level 2 contributing approximately $1.4 million toward their development.
A short video about Level 2 and DC Habitat’s unique affordable housing proposal is available here.
Since the proposal’s July approval, Level 2 and DC Habitat have secured properties for 12 of the 13 planned homes in the Ivy City neighborhood of D.C. These sites will enable the size of the off-site homes to be built even larger than previously anticipated, with every home now planned to have three bedrooms and no less than 1,200 square feet. The increased size of the homes puts Level 2 on track to exceed its own off-site affordable housing proposal by an additional 13 percent, with the total square feet of the homes projected to increase from 13,747 to 15,600. In addition, the move to an off-site affordable development with DC Habitat will allow for the construction of three times as many bedrooms than an on-site proposal would have yielded. Thirty-nine bedrooms are now slated for development, compared to the projected 13 bedrooms under traditional on-site requirements.
“Our goal is to create more affordable housing with deeper levels of affordability, which will positively change the lives of low-income families in the area,” said David Franco, principal of Level 2 Development. “We see this project as a creative way to provide more off-site, family-oriented affordable housing for the parents and children who really need it, and we strongly believe this type of out-of-the box thinking should be considered for other projects throughout the District of Columbia as the government seeks to address the city’s affordable housing crisis.”
The unique off-site proposal was the result of conversations early in the PUD process between Level 2, the Office of Planning, ANC commissioners, and community stakeholders about more effective ways to address the housing needs of low-income families in the area. All parties showed a collective interest in creating a more impactful affordable housing public benefit for the Highline at Union Market project, which led Level 2 to its partnership with DC Habitat.
“Level 2’s creative approach to the affordable housing public benefit for the Highline at Union Market will empower our non-profit organization to acquire land and build homes that we otherwise would not have been able to afford,” said Susanne Slater, president and chief executive of DC Habitat. “The synergies of private/non-profit partnerships and the leverage of equity from projects such as Level 2’s PUD toward off-site affordable housing enables both market-rate and non-profit developers to build upon each other’s strengths and make an even greater impact on the community than either could otherwise do alone.”
DC Habitat secured property for 8 of the homes from Trinity Baptist Church, adjacent to the church. The proceeds will help the church expand its membership and programs within the ANC-5D01, and provide additional benefits to the community.
When all of the off-site homes are fully built, Level 2 will have developed more than double the square feet of affordable housing in its off-site homes than would have otherwise been required if all units were located on-site at 320 Florida Ave. The planned development would also ensure that all off-site affordable units are built in ANC 5D-01, less than a mile from the Highline at Union Market project itself. Maintaining the off-site housing locally was a priority for Level 2 and of particular importance to ANC Chairperson Kathy Henderson (ANC 5D-05) and ANC Commissioner Peta-Gay Lewis (ANC 5D-01).
The unique off-site affordable housing public benefit concept was met with the unanimous approval from Zoning Commission members at a Final Action hearing last month.
Zoning Commission member Robert Miller called the proposal “a creative approach to getting affordable housing that’s badly needed.”
Several other members of the commission, including Chairman Anthony Hood and Vice Chairman Marcie Cohen, echoed Miller’s remarks during the July 13 hearing.
“What I am especially pleased about with this particular project is that it does provide for deeper affordability and larger units,” Cohen said. “This is an important opportunity to be creative, to partner between a not-for-profit and a for-profit entity, and … get deeper affordability and larger units to address our critical housing issues in the city.” Regarding the concept, Chairman Hood remarked “…that’s for me, that’s what zoning is all about, and [it is a] benefit for that community.”
In addition to approval from the Zoning Commission, Level 2 received wide support for its off-site proposal from stakeholders including ANC-5D, ANC-6C, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Department of Housing and Community Development Director Polly Donaldson, Jubilee Housing President Jim Knight, and the Office of Planning.
This is a second act for Level 2, which in 2007 leveraged a $1 million contribution from its View 14 PUD at 2303 14th St., N.W., to enable 48 low-income families that were on the brink of displacement to acquire and rehabilitate their apartment building and remain in their homes at the Milestone Sankofa building at 1430 Belmont St., N.W.
ABOUT LEVEL 2 DEVELOPMENT
Level 2 Development, LLC, (Level 2) is a Washington, D.C.-based real estate firm specializing in the development of residential and mixed-use projects that offer the highest level of finishes and detail. Level 2 believes in building strong relationships with all of its partners — equity sources, design and construction professionals, residents of its communities, and with local stakeholders in the larger communities in which it works. Level 2 has proven success in land acquisition, entitlement, and construction management. Since its founding in 2005, the company has led the development of more than 1,500 residential units and 75,000 square feet of retail space, representing in excess of $300 million in assets. Level 2’s projects in Washington, D.C., are located in the Union Market, 14th Street, and Takoma neighborhoods. For further information on Level 2 Development, please visit www.level2development.com.
ABOUT HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF WASHINGTON, D.C.
Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. (DC Habitat) is a 501-C-3 organization that works to eliminate poverty housing in the nation's capital by building decent, affordable, energy-efficient homes for people in need. Utilizing volunteer labor and financial contributions, DC Habitat builds and rehabilitates houses in order to sell them to low-income families who would not otherwise be able to purchase their own homes. For more information, please visit www.dchabitat.org.