Montgomery County, Md. Launches First Workforce Housing Sponsored under New Local Legislation

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorRockville, Md.—The Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC), the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) and the city of Rockville, Md. recently launched Montgomery County’s first workforce housing condominiums sponsored under the county’s new legislation. These condos are called the Village at King Farm, a 49-unit community in Rockville.“What we want to do here is give people an opportunity to have a stake in the future of Montgomery County,” Maryanne Dillon, director of real estate at HOC, tells MHN. “This is one of the highest-income counties in the country, which makes it out of reach for the vast majority of people working for the county.”In March 2008, the HOC and DCHA purchased the property for $9.5 million through Montgomery County’s Right of First Refusal, which gives the county the opportunity to purchase any multifamily property in the county that goes under contract for sale, if there is an opportunity for preserving or creating affordable housing, Dillon explains.The residences in the three-building property, which was formerly the Village Center Apartments, are being upgraded to condominium finishes and the common areas are also being improved. Residences will be sold to those earning between 70 and 120 percent of the Washington, D.C. area median income.The Village at King Farm is part of a 430-acre, transit-oriented Smart Growth planned community, King Farm. King Farm Associates (KFA) and Torti Gallas and Partners completed the New Urbanism concept plan for the community, whose residential areas were built out in 2005. The Village is situated above ground-floor retail.While most of the residences at King Farm are market-rate, approximately 12 percent of the units were set aside for affordable housing under Montgomery County’s inclusionary zoning law, Dillon explains.“King Farm is a desirable high-end community that has not been as deeply affected from foreclosures as other parts of the county. It remains a desirable place to live. There’s not a plethora of product in King Farm that is on the market,” says Dillon.The Village at King Farm offers two- and three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,600 sq. ft., that will be sold from approximately $200,000 to $350,000. Each two-story residence at the Village features hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, washer/dryer hookups, parking and additional storage.Community amenities at King Farm include meeting rooms, a fitness center, swimming pool, children’s playground, and picnic areas with barbeque grills, in addition to 45 acres of park space.Sales are expected to begin later this winter, but HOC has already begun marketing toward “people who are working in Montgomery Country who otherwise couldn’t afford to live there,” Dillon says. Residences are slated for delivery in the first quarter of 2009.Construction loans were provided by Wachovia and Montgomery County.