DC’s Unquenchable Thirst for Apartments

Developers are looking to add thousands of new apartments in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

One Loudoun

This past year marked the highest number of apartments developed in the Greater Washington area in the past decade, according to Marcus & Millichap report. Even so, demand was so vigorous for rentals that vacancy rose just 60 basis points, to 5.3 percent at the end of the first quarter.

And developers are still eyeing the area, spurred on by such forecasts as an expected acceleration in job growth this year — to more than 48,500 new positions, an increase of 1.6 percent year over year.

Nonetheless, the size of some of the projects is surprising.

The Washington Business Journal reports that Lee Development Group and the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County plan a major overhaul of a Silver Spring site developed exclusively as affordable housing for seniors. Called Elizabeth Square, the $200 million mixed-use development will include 907 market-priced and affordable housing units, a health and wellness center, a bistro kitchen, a pool, a dance studio and other amenities.

On July 23, the Montgomery County Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the plan for the project. However, ground breaking is at least a year away, as the developers still need several other approvals. Elizabeth Square will be developed in four phases.

The Washington Business Journal also said that Miller & Smith is looking for approvals to build 1,171 residential units in the town center portion of Ashburn’s 358-acre One Loudoun mixed-use development. The currently approved plan for the project calls for the construction of only 446 residential units in the town center, with 595 units in other areas, more than 3.5 million square feet of office space, more than 660,000 square feet of retail space and 750 hotel rooms. But the developer wants to add 725 more town center units. In a statement accompanying the zoning amendment application, Miller & Smith explained that it believes the increased number of apartments will support businesses and attract more non-residential development to One Loudoun. As in the case of Elizabeth Square, the county still needs to give its approval before construction can start.

Does the Washington metro area need so many apartments? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.

Photo credit: www.oneloudoun.com