Affordable housing that doesn’t look like affordable housing has been a mantra of progressive developers for some time, but what about affordable housing that is actually market-rate housing? That was the goal with MetroPointe, a 173-unit community with 53 income-restricted units where residents across all income brackets share the same amenities and accoutrements of a Class A-plus, transit-oriented apartment community. Mission accomplished, says Greenbelt, Md.-based The Bozzuto Group, which partnered with the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) of Montgomery County to deliver MetroPointe to downtown Wheaton, Md.
The project was a revitalization of an unused metro parking lot and features exteriors and interior floor plans and finishes designed by Torti Gallas & Partners. We’re talking 9-foot ceilings, Moen fixtures and GE appliances, a business center, a clubhouse with pool table and plasma TV, a fitness center, two landscaped courtyards, and an 800- square-foot community space—all of which is encompassed on a site with direct elevator access to the Wheaton metro station as well as the resulting employment and cultural opportunities of the greater Washington, D.C., metro area.
Location: Wheaton, Md.
Builder: Bozzuto Construction Co.
Developer: The Bozzuto Group & Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County
Architect: Torti Gallas & Partners
Opened: November 2008
No. of Units: 173
Unit Mix: Studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments
Prices: $1,320 to $2,465 per month
“What’s fascinating to me is that this project is architecturally an exclamation point for the neighborhood. It’s on top of a metro, it’s on a corner at the main intersection, and, oh, by the way, it is mixed-income as well,” says Toby Bozzuto, president of the Bozzuto Development Co. and partner of The Bozzuto Group. “An urban, mixed-use environment on top of transit is real estate that is typically characterized by higher housing costs rather than lower.”
Certainly, Maryland’s Montgomery County knows about higher housing costs. As one of the premier residential real estate markets in the country, the need for affordable housing options is massive, Bozzuto says, and the commitment of developers to deliver is quickly becoming paramount. “It is appropriate and important to provide the same levels of housing to people with income needs as it is to those that have the wherewithal to live in a Class A apartment,” Bozzuto says. “I don’t think there should be any step down or distinguishing negative characteristics. That being said, is it difficult to finance? Yes. Is it nevertheless ethically and morally important to be engaged in it? From my standpoint, and the standpoint of Bozzuto and our partners, that’s a yes too.”