Atlanta-based Gables Residential sure knows how to pick a submarket for the company’s first official LEED-certified multifamily community. The project is located in Takoma Park, Md., a neighborhood with a reputation as one of the most liberal and environmentally-conscious inside the Beltway. (Takoma straddles the Washington, D.C., and Maryland state line.) Its year-round organic farmer’s market is one of the largest in the area, and residents, in general, aspire to a holisitic and organic lifestyle that is just this side of crunchy. The green bar was definitely going to have to be met.
Gables Takoma Park, the resulting Silver LEED-certified, 145-unit apartment community, seems to have done just that. Beginning with neighborhood focus groups and an open house to emphasize the property’s green cache, Gables Takoma Park quickly silenced a concerned neighborhood that was conscious of building things green and wary of a corporately-managed apartment community.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Builder/Developer: Gables Residential
Architect: Eric Colbert & Associates
Opened: August 2008
No. of Units: 145
Unit Mix: Studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments
Prices: $1,525 to $3,345 per month
“The location itself was ideal—directly next to the Takoma Park metro station in a desirable submarket,” says Gables regional vice president of investments Jorgen Punda. “The neighborhood is mostly educators, professionals, and activists who seemed open to our price point but keenly aware of the environment and the preservation of an established, eclectic neighborhood. Via our open house and marketing outreach on our green efforts, I think the prospect base, as well as the community, became intrigued in a positive way.”
Indeed, marketing flyers and business cards were printed with soy-based inks on seeded paper that—if lost or littered—would biodegrade, seed, and grow into flowers. Additional materials were printed on recycled paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The building boasts dual-flush toilets that decrease water usage by 30 percent, low-VOC adhesives and finishes, compact fluorescent bulbs, preferred parking for alternative fuel vehicles, loaner bicycles, and separate trash chutes for recycling on every floor.
Though originally aiming for basic LEED certification, the extra effort to meet community expectations brought Gables Takoma Park to the Silver level and has turbo-charged the company’s appetite for additional LEED projects. “Prior to this project, I think we were doing some green things but maybe didn’t call it green specifically,” Punda says. “We have since gotten a lot more specific with all of our green initiatives from the development, investment, and management fronts. Which is good—we’re hoping with Takoma Park to set a new high watermark.”