In the future, the Crystal House Apartments site in Pentagon City’s Aurora Highlands neighborhood will feature new affordable housing as part of additional master-planned infill development. There are 828 apartment units already existing on the approximately 16-acre site, in the CH1 and 2 buildings. The site is located at 1900 South Eads Street on two blocks (referred to as the Crystal Houses block and the Restaurant Row block, respectively).
Related Site Plan: SP #451, approved 12/14/2019
About the Project
In December 2019, the County Board approved Site Plan #451, which entitled the five infill development parcels on the CH site (CH3, CH4, CH5, CH6, and CH7/8) for 820 net new units, in addition to the 828 existing units on the site that will remain. The Crystal Houses V site (CH5), totaling 81 units, was conditioned to be conveyed in fee to the County to meet the overall site’s affordable housing goal and is now owned by the County.
Washington Housing Conservancy (WHC) acquired the Crystal House Apartments site in December 2020. Amazon participated as a lender and investor to help finance the acquisition. WHC owns the acquired CH site, and JBG SMITH is serving as the property manager for the existing units located within the CH1 and 2 buildings. The existing 828 apartments across CH1 and 2 are a mix of studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3-bedroom units. Current market rents are generally affordable between 60-80% of the area median income (AMI) for studios, 1-bedrooms, and 2-bedrooms, whereas 3-bedroom rents are above 80% AMI. Per a 99-year covenant applicable to the entirety of the site, excluding the CH5 site in County ownership, 75% of the existing market-rate affordable units will be committed as affordable between 50%-80% of the AMI.
Affordable Housing Infill Development Opportunity
An Amazon-affiliate, Acorn Development LLC, acquired the rights to develop the infill parcels on the Crystal House Apartments site when the WHC acquired the property in 2020. Acorn Development LLC is now assigning its rights and responsibilities under its Option via an Assignment and Assumption Agreement with Arlington County for purposes of developing new affordable housing. This Agreement stipulates that at least 75% of the 738 unbuilt units, or 554 units, be committed as affordable, with a portion affordable at or below 50% of the AMI. The Agreement also requires that all affordable units be delivered by January 1, 2028.
The new residential development program for the site, including the new affordable housing, will be guided primarily by Amazon’s requirements. These plans will be further informed by Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan, Virginia Housing’s QAP, and other industry best practices in design, mixed-income development, community engagement, and resident services.
Developer Contact for Further Information
Arlington County is collecting information from developers who are interested in receiving additional information about the Crystal House Apartments site and applying under a formal Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and Request for Proposals (RFP) process in the coming months. When details about the RFQ/RFP process become available, the County will share them with interested developers and on this webpage.
Complete the developer contact form to be added to our contact list for additional information.
The public is being informed of the proposed affordable housing infill development. Should the selected developer(s) propose amendments to the 2019 site plan, the County will require appropriate public engagement at that time.
How does the County-owned CH5 site fit into this announcement? What’s the future for that site?
As noted, the County now owns the CH5 site, and it’s currently being used as a surface parking lot serving Restaurant Row. The County is considering options for the site in relation to this larger affordable housing opportunity. More information will be shared when it becomes available.
How will a developer for the infill development be identified?
The County will initiate a multi-step RFQ/RFP process in search of a master developer, with a preference for a team of sub-developers under this master developer. The selected master developer will ultimately enter into a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with the County. That agreement will lay out between the master developer and the County the roles and responsibilities, financing sources, and milestones, among other required elements.
What is the envisioned affordability mix of the infill development?
The Agreement stipulates that at least 75% of the 738 unbuilt units, or 554 units, be committed as affordable. The Agreement further states that of the 554 units:
- A minimum of 148 residential units must be committed to households earning 50% or less of the area median income (AMI).
- A minimum of 406 residential units must be committed to households earning 80% or less of the AMI.
How can I apply for one of the new affordable units?
We anticipate the first new construction of affordable units on this site to be completed in approximately 2025-2026, as this is a complex, multi-phased project that takes considerable time and resources to come together. If you’re looking for affordable housing in the Crystal City area more immediately, you may wish to do the following:
- Consider contacting JBG Smith, the property manager for the existing Crystal House 1 & 2 buildings, as there are a limited number of units that will be phased in with affordable rents over the next several years; and/or
- Consider following our webpage that updates monthly on affordable unit availability. Under the second bullet point from the top, there’s an option to subscribe to an email update list.