Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007

AIM opposes apartment’s historic designation; developer offers more units

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I would like to offer a correction to the information that was attributed to my testimony before Park and Planning in the Dec. 12 article, ‘‘Falkland Chase complex is historic, planners say.”

The article said that Action in Montgomery supported redevelopment because the project promised 50 units to be set aside for affordable housing. This is incorrect. AIM was opposed to the historic designation of the north parcel of the Falkland apartments because the developer, Home Properties, had offered to build a total of 282 affordable and work force housing units in the Falkland apartments and another location in Silver Spring.

The 282 units would replace the loss of 182 moderately priced units that now make up the north parcel of the Falklands, plus an additional 100 units. This represents a commitment of 26.5 percent of new constructed units toward the county’s affordable housing crisis.

If its project is approved, Home Properties is required to provide 12.5 percent of the new units as MPDUs for a period of 99 years. This equates to 133 units. In negotiations with AIM, Home Properties also agreed to provide 49 units in its Woodleaf community for the Rent Supplement Program beginning May 2009 and extending for 20 years.

In the event the county discontinues the Rent Supplement Program during the 20 years, Home Properties agreed to convert these units to MPDUs for the remainder of the term.

Although not required by law to do work force housing, Home Properties has agreed, for a period of 20 years from construction completion of the north parcel buildings, to commit 50 units in the new north parcel and 50 units in existing buildings in the east and west parcels to rents within the range of the workforce housing guidelines. These regulations provide that a household may pay no more than 25 percent of its adjusted gross income, plus adjustments for utilities paid by the landlord, for rent.

AIM believes that this kind of commitment on the part of a developer is a big step in the right direction to stopping the county’s affordable housing crisis.

We need to look for opportunities to partner with developers who are willing to do more than the minimum legal requirements.

It is still our hope that the County Council will see the development of Falkland north as an opportunity to increase affordable housing in Silver Spring and will weigh this benefit against the issue of historic designation.

Rev. Rachel Cornwell, Silver Spring

The writer is senior pastor of Woodside United Methodist Church in Silver Spring.