Affordable Housing Developer Teams With Dance Org for Mixed-Use Building in DC


Heleos, a Washington, D.C.-based development company, has filed plans to construct a 124,000-square-foot mixed-use building at 4608-4618 14th Street NW in Washington, D.C.

Heleos is acquiring the property along with its partner, current tenant Dance Loft on 14, where the joint venture plans to build a new and updated home for the dance nonprofit, as well as expand the property to include an affordable housing component, according to public records. 

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The affordable housing developer is teaming up with the arts studio for the project in the heart of Ward 4.

In a Planned Unit Development (PUD) document from the District of Columbia Office of Planning, Heleos proposed a five-story building with 101 residential units, where two-thirds would be affordable at 30, 50 and 60 percent of area median income.

Additionally, Dance Loft on 14 would occupy 11,277 square feet on the ground and mezzanine levels in a new state-of-the-art space, which would include two theaters and four dance studios.

Dance Loft initiated the partnership with Heleos when its current home went up for sale this year. The organization currently provides space to more than 2,500 artists per year, and attracts more than 5,000 audience members while its in-house professional ballet company employs 12 dancers. 

“This unique partnership will allow us to expand our programming, serve more community members and partners, attract more support for local businesses in our corridor, and contribute desperately needed affordable housing to the District,” Diana Movius, Dance Loft’s executive artistic director, said in a prepared statement. “We hope everyone will join us on the journey to bring this new community asset to life.” 

The development would also include 1,888 square feet of retail space which would face 14th Street, and 40 off-street parking spaces, including long-term bicycle parking.

A Zoning Commission hearing to approve the project is slated for May 5.

“This is a test case for whether or not affordable housing and D.C.’s arts space goals can succeed anywhere in the city,” Chris VanArsdale, principal of Heleos, said in a prepared statement. “Hundreds of supporters from the DMV have sent support letters to theZoning Commission and we hope they’ll value their voices and choose to support the livelihoods of artists, D.C.’s creative economy and housing equity.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is looking to add 12,000 affordable units to D.C. Rock Creek East, where this project is located, currently has among the fewest affordable units in the city, according to the Heleos documents.

Heleos is targeting zero energy performance through LEED-certified design, such as solar panels, a green roof, enhanced water reuse and stormwater management.

If the Zoning Commission approves the project, Dance Loft 14 will stay in its current space until the groundbreaking in 2024, with the new facility opening in 2025.

The acquisition of the site and the pre-development planning costs are paid for by Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, CityFirst Enterprises and other community partners.  

Requests for comment from Heleos and Dance Loft 14 were not immediately returned.

Keith Loria can be reached at