Throughout the city, affordable housing units are making way for high-end developments, leaving a large section of the DC population behind. Fortunately, new units are going up in Mount Vernon Triangle, and Mayor Bowser was on hand to break the first ground.
Set to be completed in 2020, Liberty Place Apartments will be 71 units of affordable housing in downtown DC, in a growing and thriving neighborhood close to the Capitol. The units will cater to a variety of needs in the low-income community: 11 are accessible and reserved for those with limited mobility, 14 will provide permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless adults and seven will have veterans preference.
Liberty Place is financed with bonds issued by the DC Housing Financing Agency and Housing Production Trust Funds from the DC Department of Housing and Community Development. The two entities also received help from Freddie Mac and SunTrust Bank.
The land upon which Liberty Place will be built was donated by a joint venture including Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, The Wilkes Company and Quadrangle. The land’s affordability requirements, originally established by the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), were key in leading to the creation of affordable housing in this vibrant neighborhood.
The National Housing Trust Enterprise Preservation Corporation (NHT-Enterprise), a Washington, DC, nonprofit affordable housing owner and developer, and IBF Development hosted the groundbreaking ceremony in celebration of the years of collaboration it has taken to get all parties on board with the financing and location of the units.
Mayor Bowser headlined the groundbreaking as part of her celebration of June Housing Bloom, a month-long initiative that showcases how public- and private-sector partners are producing and preserving affordable housing and revitalizing neighborhoods across the District. “As our city continues to grow and prosper, my administration will remain laser-focused on ensuring residents of all backgrounds and income levels have access to safe and affordable places to live in all eight wards,” said Mayor Bowser. “Liberty Place is an example of how we are making good on our commitment to give more Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in the District’s prosperity.”
MVT Moving Forward
Last month, the Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District (CID) held its annual meeting in the new headquarters of the DC Bar. The packed meeting focused heavily on the progress made in the neighborhood throughout the last year and laid out the path toward the CID’s next major focus: bringing parks to MVT.
Kenyattah Robinson, president of the CID, spoke at length about the enhancements made to the neighborhood over the last few years and how the data shows that neighbors and other stakeholders are taking notice. A survey of 722 residents and workers in MVT showed that two-thirds of the population believe that the streets are safer, and four-fifths say they are cleaner now than they were a few years ago. The cleanliness is in large part to the work on the MVT Green Team. Robinson also made a strong argument for local business thriving in the area, noting that 70 percent of restaurants are locally owned.
There was also a strong emphasis on looking ahead toward what Robinson considers the most important goal of the coming year: making Cobb Park an actual park. Hoping to avoid the early mistakes of neighboring NoMa, the CID plans to focus heavily on creating outdoor multi-use park space throughout the neighborhood, which is much easier said than done considering the development density of an area so close to the Capitol.
Councilmember Charles Allen spoke at length about the necessity of making this campaign a priority. “In the span of just a few years, Mount Vernon Triangle has transformed from a quiet part of the city to travel through into a vibrant and active neighborhood people travel to. And it’s only going to continue to improve,” he said. “I am proud to have secured funding in the budget to fund Cobb Park and add some much-needed green space to the neighborhood.” Allen emphasized the need for families to be able to see their futures in MVT.
The annual meeting is always a celebration, not only of the successes of the neighborhood but also of the people who work tirelessly on its behalf. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Alex Marriott received the Community Partner of the Year Award for his steadfast efforts on behalf of the MVT community. “It has been an honor to work with such passionate and committed professionals, particularly throughout our effort to ensure Cobb Park becomes a beautiful piece of green space that our community can be proud of,” said Marriott. The Green Team members also received their well-deserved praise as the pride of the neighborhood.
“We’re no longer the ‘up and coming’ area,” explains Robinson. “Mount Vernon Triangle is now recognized and established as the ‘nexus neighborhood’ that anchors a vibrant, thriving and dynamic part of Washington’s downtown. This makes the work we do moving forward, together with our stakeholders, partners and the community, necessary and essential to the future of both Mount Vernon Triangle and downtown DC – creating a major win for all.”
Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org; @rtaylorb.