Davis Place, Arlington, Virginia
Acquisition of vacant land in high cost metro areas such as Arlington, VA generally ends up an investment option rather than an opportunity for affordable housing. When generously gifted with two parcels of land from an anonymous donor with ties to the neighborhood, AHC, Inc. embraced the chance to construct an affordable multi-unit property.
Recognizing a need to serve growing Arlington families in need of multiple bedrooms, AHC, Inc. went to the drawing board, literally. Enlisting the help of an architect, they came up with a plan to create a property with spacious two- and three-bedroom condos with outdoor living spaces – giving the condos and building a townhouse feel.
“Criteria for purchasing the completed condos included the usual documents and preparation, including a letter of approval from their lender and participation in a ‘First Time Home Buyer’ class,” Holliday said. “And all owners had to meet the income requirement of earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income which was approximately $100,000 per year.”
Today’s Davis Place home owners range from school teachers to county or government workers, singles, couples and young families.
The condo amenities include open floor plans with ceramic tile and carpeted flooring with washers and dryers in each unit. Buyers chose from four two-bedroom units or six three-bedroom units, all with two full-size baths. Outdoor living spaces were created via balconies, patios and porches – all located above covered parking.
And though the land was gifted to AHC, Inc., they were not without financial challenges, and turned to lenders such as Community Housing Capital to finance construction costs.
In order to provide the affordability piece to first time buyers, Arlington County provided 25% of the purchase price to qualified borrowers in the form of down payment assistance. The gifted monies are in the form of a loan, with no payments or interest due. However, all monies must be repaid to the county at the time of a future sale.
A successful venture, the two donated parcels allowed ten families to come affordably home to Davis Place, named after Jennie Davis, an AHC, Inc. founding member and long-time affordable housing advocate.
An administrative manager of the experimental economics program at George Mason University, Yoanna longed for an affordable home near her work; she was tired of renting. When her landlord phoned her, seeking qualified individuals or families to purchase condos at Davis Place, she jumped at the chance; not only were the condos affordable, they were in close proximity to her work. Yoanna completed her application and learned she was qualified.
“Refurbishing Davis Place started a contagious process of improvement in our neighborhood,” Yoanna said. “Nearly every building around the block is being rebuilt or refurbished, including a Habitat for Humanity Home next door.”
Attracted by affordability and location, Yoanna fell in love with the condo itself, where large windows in her living room allow her to view trees and sky. Initially, she and her child lived alone at the condo; however, she met and fell in love with the father to one of her son’s playmates. Now with their infant daughter, they are a family of five.
Together, they enjoy decorating their home to reflect their family’s taste and lifestyle. As vice-president of the condo association, Yoanna enjoys being part of a family-friendly community. She volunteers with other Davis Place neighbors to develop gardening spaces and everyone works together to support a goal of maintaining an inviting building.
“Living affordably in Arlington was merely a dream, which changed to a reality. The condo at Davis Place fit our family’s needs perfectly,” recalls Yoanna. “My life has evolved into a fairy tale.”