New Silver Spring development creates affordable housing -- Gazette.Net


A site plan is to be submitted soon to bring affordable housing units in downtown Silver Spring.

Montgomery Housing Partnership, Inc. — a not-for-profit that is the largest owner of affordable housing in Montgomery County — and Washington, D.C.-based Donohoe Development Company are teaming up for the development at the corner of Bonifant and Fenton streets, which will be adjacent to the new Silver Spring Library.

The project will have between 130 and 150 housing rental units for young families and seniors, said Stephanie Roodman, senior project manager/legal counsel for MHP. She said that while the numbers have not yet been determined, she estimates about 80 percent of the units will be available at affordable housing rental rates.

MHP is working with the community and pulling together the financing for the project, while Donohoe will be taking over construction on the vacant county-owned lot.

There will also be about 9,000 square feet of retail, which Peter Gartlan, president of development for The Donohoe Companies, Inc., hopes will be used for small, neighborhood-serving stores that are appropriate for the transit-oriented location.

Financing for the project has not yet been set, but Roodman said the county has committed more than $11 million toward the project. The remaining funding for the project will likely be from a state, federal and local sources, she said, noting that they will have a better idea about financing in eight months.

Roodman said the affordable housing is for people earning less than 60 percent of area median income, which is about $95,660, according to the 2011 U.S. Census. She said MHP and Donohoe Development are filing for a site plan review of the project and have been working with the community to develop a plan for the building to make sure it is something that’s useful to the community.

“This is going to be an affordable project and as the neighborhood gentrifies, ... we’ll be maintaining an affordable property,” Roodman said.

Roodman said they plan to have one level of parking with about 25 spots to encourage residents to use existing public transportation in an “already congested” area.

Gartlan said reduced parking needs is directly attributed to the site’s proximity to major bus service and the Purple Line, a 16-mile light rail mass transit line that would connect Bethesda to New Carrollton that is expected to have a stop across the street at the library. He also said the county-owned Wayne Avenue parking garage is “within a block” for residents.

“Libraries today have become the new nexus or center point for urban development and provide a great community anchor,” Gartlan said.

Rick Nelson, director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs, told the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board last month about the county’s affordable housing codes, which require new developments to be available to people of all incomes. The law requires between 12.5 and 15 percent of houses in new developments be moderately priced, he said.

Of those moderately priced units, 40 percent must be offered to the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, which focuses on providing affordable housing and supportive services for county residents, and other nonprofit housing agencies that serve low and moderate income families.

So far, Roodman said they have received “very positive responses” at their community meetings. She said they plan to break ground on the project by the end of 2013 and construction will take about 18 months.