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Mixed Use Development With Affordable Housing Units Opens in D.C.


This month, a new mixed-use development opened in Southeast D.C.  The Clara, named after Clara Muhammad, is located at the original site of America’s Islamic Heritage Museum, and the new building includes a permanent location for the museum on the ground floor.  The ground floor of The Clara also includes retail spaces, in which a restaurant and an environmentally sustainable laundry service currently operate.  On the upper floors are 81 housing units, ranging in size from studio apartments to three-bedroom apartments.  61 of these units are reserved for households whose income does not exceed 50 percent of the area median income, and the other 20 are for households whose income does not exceed 30 percent of the area median income.  The project is the result of cooperation between the D.C. government, the development company Banneker Ventures, and the nonprofit organization Medina Life.  Projects like this are only possible with great amounts of cooperation and organization.  For legal advice about participating in affordable housing initiatives in the D.C. area as a commercial landlord, contact a Washington, D.C. real estate lawyer.

D.C.’s Affordable Housing Boom

In the past few decades, the D.C. area has gone from big city expensive to downright unaffordable, a trend that has only become more pronounced during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  Rent for a studio apartment in D.C. costs as much as a mortgage payment on a four-bedroom house in a landlocked state.  The good news is that D.C. is making efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing, as are counties in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of D.C.  Mayor Bowser has set the goal of creating 12,000 new affordable housing units in D.C. by the end of 2025.  Nationwide, projects are in progress to convert unused office buildings into residential and mixed-use buildings that will provide tens of thousands of housing units, many of them reserved for residents with household income below a certain level.

How Can You Participate in Affordable Housing Initiatives?

Commercial real estate involves a lot of legal complexities in any market.  When you are dealing with affordable housing developments, the process is even more complex, but ultimately even more rewarding.  Developers that offer rental units at affordable rates often qualify for tax incentives that are not available for developments where residential tenants can and must pay whatever price the market demands.  No matter the price point, mixed-use developments have their own set of complexities and their own set of rewards.  In mixed-use developments, multiple developers sometimes work together, a situation that can only be successful if airtight legal agreements are in place.  If you are considering participating in such a project, you should have a series of long discussions with a real estate lawyer before you get started.

Contact Tobin O’Connor Ewing About Commercial Real Estate

A Washington, D.C. real estate attorney can help you strategize about cooperating with other entities to build much needed affordable housing in the D.C. area.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor, and Ewing in Washington, D.C. or call 202-362-5900.



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