Housing Complex

Here’s What So Others Might Eat Has Planned for Benning Road

Benning street level

A rendering of the planned development, seen from Benning Road NE

Last year, the low-income and homeless services nonprofit So Others Might Eat purchased three parcels of by the Benning Road Metro station with the goal of erecting a mixed-use development. Now, at long last, we have a detailed look at what they'll be building there.

The 180,000-square-foot complex will feature 202 affordable housing units, a sit-down deli, SOME's Center for Employment Training (a school to give adults job skills, currently located in Anacostia) and administrative offices, a medical and dental clinic, and three levels of underground parking. It'll be SOME's largest project to date, dwarfing the organization's other 12 housing locations.

SOME paid $5 million for the main site, plus $1.7 million for an adjacent gas station, which has a lease that expires in 2019. "It was definitely not a sweetheart deal," says Troy Swanda, SOME's housing development director. SOME is hoping to break ground in late 2014, followed by 18 to 24 months of construction.

The development project will cost around $80 million, out of which SOME is funding about $21 million. The rest, says Swanda, will come from tax credits, the Housing Production Trust Fund, and city subsidies.

Swanda says the community has largely been supportive, though at least one local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner has expressed reservations. "I think because it's got a little bit of everything and it's going to be a beautiful site, there's a lot of excitement," he says.

The housing will include 30 family units, ranging from two to four bedrooms; 168 units for single adults, with a mix of single-room occupancy and efficiency apartments; and four units for SOME night managers. Residents will pay 30 percent of their income toward rent, and will be tested for alcohol and drug use before being approved for residency. The units will be alcohol- and drug-free; SOME operates a treatment program in West Virginia to promote sobriety.

"We're not a housing-first model," says SOME Executive Director Richard Gerlach, referring to the popular trend these days toward providing housing before trying to solve addiction issues. "You have to screen, screen, screen. You have to hold firm on sobriety, and firm on people paying their rent."

Below are more renderings of the project.

The view from Blaine Street NE

The view from Blaine Street NE

The atrium of the new building

The atrium of the new building

Benning Aerial

An aerial view

Renderings courtesy of SOME

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  • carlosthedwarf

    Housing First is not a "recent trend", it's the model that's proven to work best, and that SOME doesn't use it is a mark against them. Still, it's good to see this much affordable housing going to a transit-accessible location.

  • Gabe

    I approve of my tax dollars for this use. You are welcome!

  • Hillman

    Looks like a terrific development.

    Sad to think you could have three or four more of these if we'd just sell the Mitch Snyder Center next to the Capitol.

    Land value there alone is a quarter billion dollars.

    We could sell the land and then earmark every cent of real estate tax there forever to fund developments just like this.

    But no.

    It's more important that we 'keep the homeless visible'.

  • K

    There is a Task Force currently looking at the future of the Federal City Shelter, commonly known as CCNV, the organization founded by Mitch Snyder and the largest tenant of the building. The District had agreed to use the main building for homelessness purposes for a period of years and that period is coming to an end. CCNV owns much of the surrounding parking lot and one of the smaller buildings. Any sale will have to be coordinated between the District and CCNV.

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