August 31, 2021, Columbia, MD… Housing experts and leaders in Howard County say a new 48-unit housing community at 7410 Grace Drive offers a welcoming high-quality option for area residents at various income levels in need of affordable homes. Robinson Overlook is a new $18.7 million rental community nestled on a 3.8-acre site near Robinson Nature Center.
Residents and supporters joined with the development team led by Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. today to celebrate Robinson Overlook at a Grand Opening and Ribbon-cutting.
“We are focused on building an inclusive and equitable community that provides housing for people of all incomes and abilities,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Robinson Overlook is an important example of how private and public entities can work together to ensure accessible housing is a priority. We’re proud of this investment and thrilled for residents of Howard County.”
Robinson Overlook consists of five residential buildings with single level apartments and townhomes. Of the 48 total units, 43 are reserved for residents earning a range up to 60% of the area median income, with five more units leased without income restrictions. There are 8 one-bedroom, 19 two-bedroom, and 21 three-bedroom units, with 8 units set aside for persons with disabilities.
Primary funding for Robinson Overlook was provided through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program awarded by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (MD-DHCD). The agency also contributed a permanent mortgage and low interest loan to expand housing opportunities for persons with disabilities, in conjunction with the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation.
“Robinson Overlook will bring much-needed affordable housing to Columbia, and it is a great example of the high-quality, modern, apartment communities supported by the State of Maryland,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth C. Holt. “Working with our public, private, and nonprofit partners, we have helped create or preserve more than 22,000 affordable units under Governor Hogan’s leadership.”
Robinson Overlook’s units offer spacious, open-concept living spaces with ENERGY STAR kitchen appliances, including dishwashers. All units have walk-in closets; individually-controlled HVAC and hot water heaters; washers/dryers; window blinds; large windows; and high-quality, durable contemporary flooring and finishes throughout.
There is a stylish community room with kitchenette, a playground, and a community picnic area, in addition to an onsite leasing and management office and off-street parking. A regional bus stop is located a quarter mile from the site allowing easy access to the many area work, retail and service centers including downtown Columbia, the Howard County General Hospital, the Columbia Mall, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and Howard County Community College, all within a few miles of the community.
“After three years of planning and construction, it is a joy to see Robinson Overlook complete and the new home for happy residents. Robinson Overlook addresses the need in Howard County for families and singles who work in the many retail, service, and health care jobs nearby, along with giving retired seniors who are on fixed incomes, safe, secure, energy-efficient and affordable places to call home,” said Andrew B. Cohen, Senior Vice President for Woda Cooper Companies.
Supportive services are provided through Howard County Housing Commission, the housing authority for Howard County and the project’s minority owner. Services target parents and children with enhanced wellness and daily living skills, including areas such as accessing resources, household budgeting, parenting, nutrition and meal planning, and after-school programs.
Peter Engel, the Housing Commission’s Executive Director, noted that, “a stable and affordable home is the base for every successful family. Robinson Overlook will provide not only that base, but also the tools that parents and children need to thrive. Today we mark the opening of these buildings and these homes, but we what we’re really doing is celebrating the opportunities that are being created with the help of all the partners here today for residents of Howard County. Robinson overlook is one step toward a more just and equitable country.”
Built for Bronze Certification through the National Association of Homebuilders’ National Green Building Standards, Robinson Overlook includes highly-sealed and insulated buildings, specialized fresh air transfer systems, energy-efficient kitchens, heating/cooling systems, windows, and water-saving bathroom fixtures.
“Residents will pay low monthly utility bills due to green building materials and energy-efficient systems used throughout the facilities,” said Mr. Cohen. Solar panels will be used to generate sufficient levels of electricity for common spaces.
Truist Community Capital provided housing tax credit equity capital, construction financing, and an additional Freddie Mac loan to finance the development. “Truist is proud to partner with Woda Cooper Companies on delivering funding for Robinson Overlook, which will fulfill a critical need for more affordable housing in Howard County,” said Steve Smith, Senior Vice President, Truist Community Capital. “This investment underscores our mission to inspire and build better lives and communities.”
Rents for affordable units at Robinson Overlook range from $520 to $1300, based on unit size and income restriction. Eight project-based housing vouchers through the Baltimore Metropolitan Council have been awarded to provide rental assistance in 3 two-bedroom units and 5 three-bedroom units.
“Robinson Overlook is one of the first developments in the Baltimore area that is providing opportunities to lower-income families by working with our unique collaboration of seven housing agencies around the region, including the Howard County Housing Commission,” said Dan Pontious, housing policy coordinator at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. “These opportunities are made possible by this unique cooperation, both public-private and across jurisdictional lines.”
Architecture by Design was the project architect, with general contracting performed by Harkins Builders, Inc. The civil engineer was Vogel Engineering + Timmons Group. Woda Cooper’s management division oversees day-to-day operations including leasing, property maintenance, and ongoing management to assist residents. For more information about leasing, visit wodagroup.com or call 240-841-5039.
About Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.
Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. and its affiliates specialize in the development, design, construction, and management of high-quality affordable multi-family apartments, senior communities, and single-family homes. The company marked 30 years in business May 2, 2020, with operations in 16 states and a portfolio of approximately 400 communities and 16,000 units. Green building is standard with certifications including Passive House, Zero Energy Ready Homes, LEED, Enterprise Green, EarthCraft, and ENERGY STAR. Woda Cooper has offices in Savannah, GA; Indianapolis, IN; Shelbyville, KY; Annapolis, MD; Mackinaw City, MI; Charlotte, NC; Columbus, OH; and Norfolk, VA. Affordable Housing Finance magazine ranked Woda Cooper Companies 10th in nation among Developers and 18th among Owners in 2021.