Foundation Pledges $1.5 Million for American Legion Post 139 Housing Project

Foundation Pledges $1.5 Million for American Legion Post 139 Housing Project

Project seeks to be a new model for affordable housing.

Ron and Fran Terwilliger have pledged $1.5 million to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) for the redevelopment of American Legion Post 139 in Virginia Square through their Terwilliger Family Foundation. The gift is the largest personal contribution APAH has ever received.

“An affordable, safe home is the first step toward a better life,” Ron Terwilliger said. “The high cost of housing and long commutes to work can drive low-income families deeper into poverty. Innovative projects like this are a key part of our efforts to address the acute housing affordability crisis affecting our country.”

Once completed, the 1.3-acre development will feature 160 affordable quality apartments and a new, modern 6,000-square-foot facility for Legion Post 139. Veterans will be given priority placement in half of the building’s 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units.

The center will provide support services such as financial literacy programs, workforce development, and tutoring for resident youth. The first floor of the seven-story building will feature a new, modern space for Post 139 with amenities such as private counseling spaces, community activity rooms and a computer lab.

“In honor of the family’s incredible generosity, the new complex will be named Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger Place in honor of Ron and brother Bruce Terwilliger’s parents,” said APAH CEO Nina Janopaul.

Ron Terwilliger began his life in Arlington, growing up in South Arlington and attending Barcroft Elementary School. At Wakefield High School, he was an academic and athletic star, and went on to earn an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. After leaving the Navy and graduating from Harvard Business School, he worked his way up in the real estate business, serving as CEO of Trammell Crow Residential (TCR) from 1986 to 2008. During his leadership, TCR was the largest developer of multi-family housing in the nation.

“As a child, my father worked two jobs to make sure that we had a safe, stable home right here in Arlington. His sacrifices gave Bruce and I the chance to attend good schools and pursue our dreams,” Ron Terwilliger said. “Today, the high cost of housing puts that dream out of reach for too many families. Projects like this are essential to helping people of all incomes and backgrounds continue to call Arlington home.”

When the Legion decided to sell the 1.3 acres of prime property in Virginia Square in 2016, APAH proposed a mixed-use space that would allow the Legion to stay in place and expand its mission to meet the needs of local veterans and low-income families.

“The redevelopment of Legion Post 139 into the Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger Place is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, and could serve as a model for other Legion posts interested in responding to the changing needs of the communities they serve,” Janopaul said.

“This project embodies two of the Legion’s most important missions — to help active duty personnel, military veterans and their families, and to be responsible citizens,” said Legion Post 139 Commander Bob Romano. “The Terwilliger family’s generosity is a great endorsement of what we are trying to do here. We hope it will serve as a model for other Legion posts. It just makes sense.”

APAH's mission is to develop, preserve, and own quality, affordable places to live; to promote stability and opportunity for our residents; and to advocate with the people and communities being served. Founded in 1989, APAH now helps more than 1,600 households live in stable, secure and affordable rental homes.

J. Ronald Terwilliger was recognized as APAH’s 2018 Celebrate Home honoree. Since his retirement, from Trammell Crow Residential, Terwilliger has turned his attention and passion to the nation’s need to provide decent affordable housing. He created the Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing at the Urban Land Institute, has chaired multiple boards including Enterprise Community Partners, Habitat for Humanity International and the I Have a Dream Foundation. Working with other housing experts and political leaders, he was a leader in the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission and has tirelessly walked the halls of Congress advocating for a more fair and effective national housing policy.