Martice Tucker

One of the first senior affordable housing communities built in the 1970s in Northern Virginia has been replaced with a new eight-story modern building nearby on the same site.

The aging Lake Anne Fellowship House in Reston had been in need of a substantial rehab, and the upkeep and maintenance costs had far exceeded the amount the seniors paid in rent and the subsidies received. Nonprofit operator Fellowship Square Foundation partnered with Enterprise Community Development (ECD) on a creative site planning and financing approach that would be the least disruptive to the older residents.

Rather than relocating residents during a rehab, the team constructed the $86.5 million Lake Anne House, a new 240-unit, energy-efficient building on an undeveloped portion of the site. The old building was sitting on valuable land, so the team was able to capitalize on that and sell to a national home builder, with the proceeds retroactively going into the construction of the new building.

Martice Tucker

“It was the least amount of disruption, but also it gave us the opportunity to design something from scratch that meets the needs of the population,” says Matt Engel, senior director, real estate development, at ECD.

Engel says the team worked closely with the culturally diverse residents moving from the old building to understand what they wanted in their new home. As a result, the amenities include a fitness center, an arts and crafts room, a game room, a social hall, an outdoor terrace, and a wellness clinic for visiting medical professionals. In addition, the building includes a bike storage room and electric car charging stations.

All units are universally designed—with grab bars, lower workspaces, and task lighting—to allow residents to age in place.

“Someone can move in at 75 but live there until they are 90,” adds Engel.

The team also worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as Fairfax County to transfer the project-based operating contracts from the old building. Residents, many with an average income between $10,000 and $15,000 a year, pay no more than 30% of their income toward their housing costs.