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

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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 atrium of the new building

An aerial view

Renderings courtesy of SOME