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County seeks developer for Amazon-funded affordable housing project in Crystal City

Arlington County has started the process of finding a developer to lead the Crystal House Apartments redevelopment project in Crystal City.

The county seeks a “robust, experienced and trustworthy master development partner” to replace surface-level parking with 738 apartment units, most of which will be affordable housing, by January 2028, according to its request for qualifications.

Arlington aims to choose a developer in the third quarter of 2022.

“Housing affordability is essential to achieving the County’s Vision and is vital to the social and economic sustainability of our community,” the county said in the request.

Arlington’s call for developers marks the latest step forward in its plans to build affordable housing on behalf of Amazon at 1900 S. Eads Street.

Amazon put up $381.9 million so that the nonprofit Washington Housing Conservancy could purchase the 16-acre site in late 2020 and stabilize rent there for 1,300 units. The purchase was part of its commitment to create and preserve affordable housing as rents rise amid its growing HQ2 presence.

In July, Amazon donated the land and development rights to the county.

Crystal House Apartments is currently comprised of two 13-story buildings built in 1961, with a total of 828 units and 765 parking spaces, of which 601 are surface parking. These surface lots are slated for redevelopment.

At least 75% of the new units will be committed affordable units, while the other 25% will be market-rate and may include rental and ownership opportunities.

As part of the project, two public parks will be built: a 31,456 square-foot park at 20th Street S. and S. Eads Street and a 23,986-square foot park at 22nd Street S. and S. Fern Street.

A protected bike lane will run along S. Eads Street, stormwater utilities will be relocated and a public pedestrian pathway through the site will be built.

Arlington plans to knock out two projects with this request for qualifications. The same developer would take on a redevelopment opportunity near the larger site, but not part of the Amazon project. This parking lot, dubbed the Crystal House 5 parcel, would be replaced with at least 81 affordable units.

Arlington expects headway on Crystal House 5 after the developer meets Amazon’s 2028 goal.

Including Crystal House 5, the 16-acre site will get 819 new residential units, between 555 and 650 of which will be affordable.

“It is still being determined how affordable units, if proposed on the Crystal House 5 site, would count towards affordability goals, and it is anticipated this will be clarified by the RFP stage,” the county said.

Together with the existing buildings, there will be 1,647 units and 1,181 parking units.

The request asks developers to submit their background and experience by Dec. 1. Arlington will then choose its top contenders, who will be invited to submit bids next spring.

Hat tip to Stephen Repetski

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