We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Approximate boundaries of W.C. Smith's new complex.

As Urbanturf noted a few days ago, the rental vacancy rate is insanely low in the District. One way to create more capacity is to build more apartment buildings. Another is to renovate and finally lease the rental stock that we already have. In Northeast neighborhoods like Carver Terrace, there’s a lot of it: Boxy brick buildings that aren’t much to look at, and aren’t super-near transit, but have provided thousands of families with affordable places to live.

A 407-unit complex, though, currently sits half empty—-a waste of good living space. It’s a great sign, then, that W.C. Smith bought the lot for $12.525 million in early September. They plan to start renovations next spring that will include new concrete walkways with decorative wrought iron fencing, awnings, doors, landscaping, lighting, new Energy Star windows, appliances and fixtures, heating and cooling. Having half the units unoccupied will allow current tenants to stay while renovations are underway, and all units will be affordable to families making between 50 and 60 percent of the area median income. All of which is just as important as building new apartment buildings in expensive areas.