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MVT Planning & Economic Development Intern Reflects on Liberty Place Groundbreaking

Friday July 13, 2018

A vivid memory from day one of my internship was when I read the MVT CID’s strategic goal objectives – specifically the fourth and final goal – that were pinned to the corkboard adjacent to the desk at which I would be sitting the next three months:

Goal 4: Advance a viable growth path trajectory that allows the MVT CID to responsibly contribute to unmet societal needs, “raise the bottom” for what is possible in a thoughtfully planned, carefully coordinated mixed-use community, and enables full achievement of the community’s innate potential.

This observation came on the heels of my graduation from planning school just a few short weeks earlier – but that had might as well been years ago. All of the relevant coursework and graduate school projects provided helpful foundations, but I was now in the real world where decisions led to real-life consequences for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

So one might imagine there was some degree of serendipity to witness DC Mayor Muriel Bowser lead the groundbreaking for a new affordable housing development, the Liberty Place Apartments, in just the third week of my internship. Liberty Place will bring 71 new units of affordable housing – including 11 reserved for those with limited mobility, 14 for formerly homeless individuals, and 7 for Veterans – to the corner of 3rd and I Streets NW. All of the units will be income-restricted, serving those making between 30-60% of the area median income.

NHT-Enterprise and IBF Development are the co-developers of the project, while other community partners involved in the project include Freddie Mac, the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DC HCD), the DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA), SunTrust Bank, Partners for Common Good, and the Housing Partnership Fund.  Finally, The Wilkes Company, Quadrangle Development Corporation, and Mount Carmel Baptist Church – three longstanding pillars of the Mount Vernon Triangle community – donated the land for the development.

As for the morning itself, the atmosphere was very festive so a little rain didn’t dampen the mood as the large crowd gathered in anticipation of the signature moment: groundbreaking! After an opening prayer from Reverend Thomas Bowen, Mayor Bowser praised the project, citing it as a shining example of new development in the District’s broader effort to build more housing at all income levels to accommodate DC’s growing population. Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development, followed by recognizing the 14-year project as a great addition to DC’s June Housing Bloom, a month-long initiative to highlight the many ways in which local agencies and private partners are supporting the creation and preservation of affordable housing across the District. Other speakers included Polly Donaldson, Director of DC HCD; Todd Lee, CEO of the DC Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA); Scott Kline, Senior Vice President at NHT-Enterprise; and Steve Smith, Senior Vice President at SunTrust Community Capital.

All of this brings me back to my day one memory. The combination of seeing the strategic plan goal on my first day, and witnessing the groundbreaking at the end of my third week, helped solidify the important relationship between two otherwise disconnected moments. And what became clear was that the reason MVT CID is so intentional in its explicit articulation of this goal is because it is vital – if not absolutely necessary – toward Mount Vernon Triangle’s sustainable growth as a community that is inclusive of all District residents.

With this in mind, the MVT CID is thrilled to welcome this project to our community, which also this summer will celebrate the addition of 225 units of affordable housing at the intersection of 4th & K Streets NW – including 50 “grandfamily” units set aside for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Moreover, an additional 104 units of affordable housing are in the pipeline at the corner of 2nd & H Streets NW in a development modeled after New York City’s iconic Flatiron Building – proving once again that “affordable” can also be “aesthetically attractive and appealing.”

This much-needed affordable housing will make progress toward fulfilling MVT CID’s vision for a dynamic, diverse and inclusive neighborhood in the heart of DC. This in turn will help solidify Mount Vernon Triangle’s standing as a place where everyone – from our newest residents to those with deep, longstanding ties to neighborhood – can truly call home.

Brian Goggin is a summer planning and economic development intern with the MVT CID. He is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley here he earned a Master’s of City Planning with a focus on affordable housing development. Brian is also a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where he earned a B.S.F.S. in International Economics and graduated summa cum laude. He can be reached at [email protected]