Alexandria's first venture into a mixed use affordable housing structure has received a boost from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) with the awarding of low income housing tax credits. These will be used to fund a major portion of the construction costs for the Potomac Yard Fire Station that will include 64 affordable/workforce housing units.
To be located within Landbay G of the 165-acre Potomac Yard site, the new fire station, the first in nearly 20 years for the City, will also contain a small amount of retail space in addition to the fire station and housing units. The tax credits from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program will provide approximately $10 million in equity for the project.
"The tax credit award is the last element needed for the development of this project. This funding will enable us to proceed with an innovative project that will provide much needed affordable housing for Alexandria residents and workers," said Mildrilyn Davis, director, Alexandria Office of Housing.
"The award of these tax credits will ensure the success of the project which will serve as both a model for affordable housing as well as for future collaborations between municipalities, private developers, and not-for-profit affordable housing developers," said Daniel R. Abramson, president, Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC).
The new fire station is to be built through a public-private collaboration that includes the City, AHDC, and the Potomac Yard Development Corporation, LLC, a private corporate entity. The latter is a joint venture comprised of Pulte Homes and Centex Homes which donated the 17,600 square feet parcel of land for the mixed use project, in addition to $6 million for the fire station and an equal amount for the housing units.
In Virginia, the 1980s federal LIHTC program is administered by VHDA. It is designed to provide incentive to private investment sources to contribute to the creation of affordable rental housing.
Once a year, developers are invited to submit applications for affordable housing project proposals that are then reviewed and ranked by VHDA. They are scored on a variety of criteria including readiness, public support, level of affordability, provision of family-size units, economic feasibility, and others. In return for the tax credits, the projects must remain affordable for 30 years.
APPROVED BY THE ALEXANDRIA PLANNING COMMISSION and City Council early this Spring, the Potomac Yard Fire Station with its 64 affordable housing units will replace the present Del Ray station on Windsor Avenue as a first response facility. The existing Del Ray station will remain "for at least eight years" as a paramedic station.
The total cost for the residential component of the mixed-use building is estimated at $21 million. Of that amount, $10 million is attributable to the tax credits. The remainder will be provided through conventional financing plus the $6 million developer contribution.
In addition to the three- or four-bay fire station and residential units, the five-story, 70 foot tall structure, will include an 80 square foot community room, 1,500 square feet of ground floor retail space, and 142 underground parking spaces for residents, fire department personnel and retail customers. They will be proportioned: 20 spaces for fire personnel; 109 for residents plus five for residential visitors; and eight for retail. There will be another 11 residential visitor spots at street level.