The County Center Crossing apartments in Woodbridge are proof that government-subsidized housing need not be run-down, poorly managed or crime-ridden.
"A family that's not making a lot of money can live in a nice property with nice amenities," said assistant property manager Brad Jutras. "We've had residents in tears when they saw this place. They come from other affordable housing buildings and see this, and they never thought they could afford something this nice. It's just as nice as our other conventional properties in the area."
The complex, which participates in a tax credit program designed to provide reasonably priced apartments to households whose incomes fall within certain ranges, is run by Centreville-based KSI Management Corp. The company owns and operates dozens of other subsidized and non-subsidized properties throughout the region.
Jutras said he has witnessed many would-be residents who earn too much money to qualify to live in a County Center Crossing apartment walk away disappointed.
KSI Services Inc., linked to the management company, constructed the garden-style apartment complex as part of a planned community that will make up the Prince William Town Center. Slated to be finished by the fall, the mixed-use development will include a community center, a farmer's market, gardens, an outdoor amphitheater, shops and restaurants, as well as already-built townhouses and condominiums. Across the street, the Potomac Nationals minor league baseball team plays at the G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium, and access to Interstate 95 (and Potomac Mills mall) is five miles away.
On the apartment complex's grounds are picnic areas, two playgrounds, an outdoor fitness trail and a swimming pool. Inside the 224-unit complex, which opened about a year ago, are a fitness center, children's playroom, spacious lobby and lounge area, and a business center.
County Center Crossing is made up of seven four-story, garden-style, pet-friendly buildings that each house 32 two- and three-bedroom apartment units. The units have two full bathrooms, wall-to-wall carpeting and new appliances including full-size washers and dryers. Residents can also opt for fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, balconies and patios, or they can choose extra living room space over an outdoor exit.
Samantha Key, 26, said her family chose to live at County Center Crossing even though it means a long commute to the Washington Navy Yard for her husband. They moved to the area from Norfolk because of her husband's job, selecting Woodbridge because it had a lower crime rate and was quieter than other neighborhoods. Key, who stays home with her young children, said safety was a top priority.
Beyond the location, which to her delight is near plenty of shopping, Key said, "The fact that this was something that fell into our price range and the apartments were brand new was very important."
She is also mindful that it is a good place for children. Set in a residential neighborhood, the complex has many kid-specific areas in and around it, including a bright playroom attached to the exercise room filled with toys and oversized stuffed animals.
"It seems to me like they anticipate all the kids, and they put the safety and well-being of kids first," Key said. "We love the playground and the swing sets."
The downside of living at County Center Crossing, Key said, is that there is no elevator.
Helen Fullinwider, 36, a longtime Woodbridge resident, said she chose a ground-floor apartment to avoid the stairs. "I can live without cathedral ceilings if I don't have to haul a kid up the stairs," said Fullinwider, a stay-at-home mother to Grace, 1.
She said the apartment is more spacious than anywhere else she has lived in the area. "It's not just bigger, but there's so much space, and it's arranged nicely. This is a larger apartment at a better cost," Fullinwider said.
Having her own laundry room is also a positive change for her, since at other places she lived, Fullinwider had to take her laundry downstairs to a common laundry facility or out to a public laundry
Because the building is only a year old, residents say, there have not been major maintenance problems.
Jean Johnson, a retired corrections officer who moved from Staten Island, N.Y., last year to be close to family, said the apartment's condition and the complex's accommodating staff have made her transition so easy that she will continue to rent her apartment indefinitely.
"To me, this is more like your own home. You have everything you need, a laundry room, a balcony and good lighting. And everyone looks out for each other," Johnson said. "It's a very good experience, that's why I consider it an apartment home."