credit: Plaza West Apartments

Plaza West, a first-of-its-kind affordable housing community in Washington catering to the needs of grandfamilies, celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 13.  

 The building’s conception resulted from a joint effort between the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, led by Brian T. Kenner, and Golden Rule Plaza Inc., which is funded by the Bible Way Church.  

The 12-story building is located in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood.  

It was important to keep get an all-affordable-housing project up and running in the quickly changing neighborhood of Vernon Triangle, the deputy mayor said. 

The building has 223 units with 50 allocated to grandfamilies, or families in which grandparents raise their grandchildren in the absence of biological parents. These 50 units are known as Plaza West. The remaining 173 units, known as Plaza West on K, are open to individuals and families.  

“One of the unique things about this is the grandfamilies concept,” Kenner said. “It speaks to a demographic that doesn’t get a lot of notoriety and, in Washington, D.C., grandparents raising grandchildren is a real fact of life.” 

[Read more: After the recession, the number of kids living with their grandparents increased]

Plaza West and Plaza West on K have separate entrances and amenities. The entrance to Plaza West is located at 1035 4th St. NW and the entrance to Plaza West on K is located at 307 K St. NW. 

Affordability is the hallmark of Plaza West’s appeal: the 50 units reserved for grandfamilies accept only grandfamilies with incomes between 30 and 50 percent of the area median income. The rest of the 173 housing units will be available to persons with income of less than 60 percent of the AMI. (The AMI for the 2017 fiscal year was $110,300, according to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development.) 

The city is proud that two-thirds of the 173 units are occupied by residents with less than 50 percent of the AMI, the deputy mayor said.  

Plaza West offers amenities and services targeted to senior citizens and young children, including onsite social services for senior citizens and children, a kids activity room, a library reserved for grandparents and a fitness center exclusively for Plaza West residents. Residents can choose from either two or three-bedroom layouts.

Plaza West on K’s amenities include a club room, an outdoor terrace, a business center and access to the K Street Fitness Club. Residents have the choice of a studio, junior one-bedroom, full one-bedroom, two-bedroom or three-bedroom apartments.  

Plaza West and Plaza West on K also share a number of amenities, such as a playground, a landscaped courtyard, 24-hour concierge services and laundry services on all floors.  

The deputy mayor said he plans to explore more “unique” housing projects.  

[Read more: Private-public partnership leads the way for affordable housing downtown]

“This is the one we wanted to get across the finish line first,” he said. “We’re definitely going to look into more unique housing opportunities in the future.”