- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 11, 2002

The city yesterday introduced the first new apartment complex to be built east of the Anacostia River in more than 25 years, jump-starting efforts to provide more affordable housing there.
Woodmont Crossing, in a hilly section of Anacostia off Good Hope Road SE, will offer 176 apartments for rent and cater to Anacostia natives who wish to stay in or return to the area but can't afford to buy a home.
"We've had a big housing boom here, but not everyone is ready to move into a house," said Jacque Patterson, chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8B, which helped to coordinate efforts to bring a developer into the neighborhood.
The area east of the Anacostia River, particularly Ward 8, where Woodmont Crossing is located, has faced an exodus in the last decade, partly because of the lack of affordable apartments, Mr. Patterson said. The 2000 census showed that more than 25,000 residents moved out of areas east of the river between 1990 and 2000.
Natives of Anacostia commonly grow up there, but move to other areas of the city to rent. Often, they come back to buy a home sales of single-family homes and town houses rose from 23 to 144 between 2000 and 2001 but many stay away. Officials said yesterday that they hoped to reverse the trend by providing an affordable housing alternative to single-family homes.
"This is more of what we want to see in our neighborhoods," Mayor Anthony A. Williams said at a press conference at the site yesterday. "We want to see housing, but we want to see it fit in with our community."
Former Mayor Marion Barry also attended.
The two- and three-bedroom apartments at Woodmont Crossing range in size from 921 to 1,175 square feet and cost from $825 to $1,035 a month, or about $500 less than the average for the District and on par with the closest suburbs. Renters with low incomes can earn special tax credits, depending on the size of the apartment.
KSI Services Inc., a District-based real estate development company, built the $17.6 million complex, which is already more than 50 percent leased despite not yet being completed. KSI executives said most new leases have been signed by people relocating from nearby neighborhoods and Prince George's County.
KSI built the complex on what was once a landfill littered with debris from the construction of a Metro tunnel. It is the first developer to build new apartments in the area since the 1970s, city officials said.
"You have to overcome people's perception that the area east of the river is [an unstable] community that people don't want to live in," KSI President Richard Hausler said.
KSI also is building 35 single-family homes on the Woodmont Crossing site and is working on the revitalization of Jeffrey Gardens, a 275-unit apartment complex in Southeast, also east of the river. The company has 32 other properties in the District, Northern Virginia and Maryland, representing a build-out value of more than $10 billion. Five more in Northern Virginia are expected to be done by the end of 2003.
Mr. Patterson said the next step in revitalizing Ward 8 and the area east of the Anacostia River is bringing in the commercial and retail base to support new residents. There is little office or retail space, and many services homeowners need such as supermarkets and home-furnishings stores are across the river or in the suburbs.
"Now that we have the influx of people coming back, we need the amenities to complement that," Mr. Patterson said. "We really don't have the commercial amenities to complement these apartments."


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