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Construction could begin next year on affordable housing redevelopment in Crystal City

Construction could start on the redevelopment of Crystal House Apartments in Crystal City late next spring.

Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (A, which is spearheading the project along with D.C.-area developer EYA, expects to kick off construction in May or June of 2024, APAH spokeswoman Elise Panko tells ARLnow.

Arlington County selected the two companies build more affordable housing on the Crystal House apartment property after Amazon granted the county development rights to the vacant land, worth approximately $40 million. APAH and EYA have plans to construct 844 units on this empty plot, of which 655 will be designated as affordable.

Meanwhile, existing units will be kept affordable through a separate loan from Amazon. In an effort to mitigate the impact of its move to Arlington on the local housing market, the tech giant loaned the Washington Housing Conservancy money to purchase and stabilize rent at the complex, located at 1900 S. Eads Street, just one block from its second headquarters.

Several months after being selected to lead the project, APAH has requested the county’s permission to amend the previously approved development plans for the site, aiming to incorporate affordable housing, according to recently filed application materials.

APAH began by redesigning the project’s first phase, dubbed “Crystal House VI,” which is set to be located at the corner of 18th Street S. and S. Fern Street.

A rendering of Crystal House VI (via Arlington County)

When the project was approved in 2019, the “Crystal House VI” was envisioned as a five-story building housing 63 units. However, APAH now intends to pivot towards affordable senior rentals, which the developer says is necessary to secure additional financing.

The developer requested permission to increase the number of units to 80 and halve the number of parking spaces.

It also requested different façade materials that “maintain a high quality and appealing design while reducing construction costs,” according to land-use attorney Nicholas Cumings.

According to a letter from Cummings, the increase in units can be achieved without changing the building’s overall footprint. The units will be smaller than the originally planned market-rate condos.

“The proposed minor site plan amendment represents a significant milestone in realizing the county’s goals,” APAH Executive Vice President Carmen Romero wrote in a letter of support to the county. “Creating these homes requires the approval of this minor site plan amendment in order to make the design compatible with an affordable senior rental project.”

Once construction starts next year, Panko says APAH anticipates Crystal House VI to be done in the fall or winter of 2025.

“This phase will reconnect the streetscape to the surrounding community as well as provide carefully crafted amenities for our seniors that foster a sense of belonging and enhance the overall quality of life for residents,” Romero said in her letter.

When asked for a timeline of the other projects in the pipeline, Panko said “there are two buildings on the site that will remain occupied, so the development will be phased to accommodate existing operations.”

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