West End Fire Station apartments to open in April

Media Credit: Mikayla Brody | Hatchet Photographer

West End Library apartments will open late this summer.

The incoming West End Fire Station apartments, which include affordable housing options, will open on schedule this April, while applicants may have to wait until late summer for West End Library apartments.

The Square 50 development project at 23rd and M streets will feature income-restricted housing above the newly renovated West End Fire Department. The other development project at Square 37, located at 24th and L streets, will open no earlier than late summer because of its complex architectural design, including a LEED Gold Certified green roof, Jennifer Webber, Eastbanc Inc. development manager, said.

“This is a complicated building,” Webber said. “It’s architecturally very interesting, but there’s a lot of complexity to the design, and it takes time to ensure the level of quality is consistent with Eastbanc’s other projects.”

The Square 37 development will permanently house the West End Library below rental apartments and for-purchase condominiums that will range from $700,000 to more than $4 million, making them some of the most expensive apartments in D.C., she said.

This is a complicated building. It’s architecturally very interesting, but there’s a lot of complexity to the design.

This project has moved along since 2007, with a delay in 2012 due after an appeal by city activists for Eastbanc to pay the property’s full price. The court affirmed Eastbanc did not need to comply with zoning requirements that cost them extra, according to court documents. The D.C. Council provided $200,000 for building up the library’s collection last June.

At the fire station, Square 50’s 60 affordable housing units will be sold at 60 percent of the area median income – with a single occupant’s income limited to no more than $45,660 – set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to its website and the development’s website.

Affordable housing has become more common in D.C. after the D.C. Council passed a bill requiring multi-family buildings with more than 10 people to make up 30 percent of the housing affordable in 2013. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development released three proposals for apartment complexes Wednesday at a community meeting at 2nd and K streets, each including affordable housing, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Applicants for those 60 available studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom housing units at Square 50 must first meet income pre-qualification requirements, including an interview and proof of income through pay stubs. City officials will then review and approve the residents, and Eastbanc will guide potential residents, Webber said.

Webber said Eastbanc has already opened applications for the housing units at both Square 50 and Square 37 and has informed West End neighbors about the housing options.

While the income qualifications are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the definition of affordable housing varies and can be vague. The housing above the fire station will be affordable to the middle class, Marina Streznewski, the president of the Foggy Bottom Association, said.

“You think of teachers and firefighters and police officers, people who are working and they have good jobs, but they’re not making six figures. This housing is affordable to them,” Streznewski said.

Patrick Kennedy, chairman of the Foggy Bottom and Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said while community members are anticipating the opening of the new West End Library, they are also looking forward to the end of construction and an end to the noise, dust and traffic that go along with a large-scale development project. Kennedy added that the apartments may appeal to faculty teaching nearby who can foot the bill.

Kennedy said he expects tax revenue from the Square 37 housing sales to contribute to funding the library collection.

“It’s clearly going to contribute tax revenue to the city on a site that was not contributing before,” he said.

The West End has always kind of been the hidden neighborhood of Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle and Georgetown.

Rebecca Coder, an ANC commissioner, said that while she expects urban professionals and empty nesters to be attracted to Square 37’s 71 housing units, temporary professionals working at the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank will likely be more interested in Square 37’s 93 rental apartments.

She added that Square 50’s affordable housing units provide opportunities for non-profit workers and teachers with lower incomes to live close to their workplaces.

“The West End has always kind of been the hidden neighborhood of Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle and Georgetown, and I think these developments – because architecturally they are so interesting – really put the West End on the map,” Coder said.

Justine Coleman and Santiago Mendoza contributing reporting.

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