Geared Up for Growth

APAH’s Real Estate Development Team Drives
Production to Meet Escalating Need


From Left to Right: Laura London, Carmen Romero,
Becca Garman, Ryan Nash, and Mike Chiappa
at American Legion Post 139

With five projects under construction in 2021, APAH’s Real Estate Development Team is in perpetual high gear. In just five months, residents will begin to move into Queens Court Apartments.  Terwilliger Place, APAH’s redevelopment of American Legion Post #139, is rapidly coming out of the ground and will provide affordable housing for veterans and others by 2022. APAH has or will shortly break ground on projects in Loudoun and Fairfax and has new opportunities in pre-development across the DMV.  “It’s an amazing level of growth and activity,” Nina Janopaul, APAH’s President and CEO notes with pride. “Everyone on the APAH team is so committed to the mission of providing quality housing to meet the needs of low-income residents.  We have more than 500 apartments under construction and 1,000 more units in the pipeline—all because of the great work of our development team.”

So what exactly does this talented team do?  “It’s difficult but exciting work,” says Mike Chiappa, who in January was promoted to Vice President for Real Estate Development and leads the eight-person team. “The day-to-day work has so many dimensions—from working with the community and elected officials to create projects that meet local needs, to putting together the complex finances to build and operate multimillion dollar properties, to managing the host of contractors and consultants that take a project from concept to completion.”

In parallel with APAH’s rapid growth, the team has grown as well, developing talent from within and attracting talented leaders from across the country eager to be a part of APAH’s innovative work. “I’m hoping to bring some of the lessons I learned developing affordable housing in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities while also learning from APAH’s rich experience,” says Mitch Crispell, who joined the team in October from BRIDGE Housing in California. “I’ve known of APAH for years by its reputation as a small yet highly sophisticated and highly respected organization. When I learned about APAH’s expansion and the entrepreneurial spirit of the team, I knew it was a great fit for me—and that it wasn’t so small anymore! Having grown up in the area, I am excited to come home and build here.”

Ryan Nash at the construction site of Terwilliger

Relocating to Arlington from Miami in 2019, Senior Project Manager Charles Sims jumped right into APAH and the wider community. He leads APAH’s current work in Maryland and is a member of the Arlington Housing Commission. “I am excited by APAH’s desire to continually improve and grow,” he observes, “whether it’s looking for ways to close the digital divide at our properties, pioneer new financing strategies, or expand our work to new communities.”

Charles and Mitch joined an already strong team, many with nearly a decade working together and deep experience with the region’s highly competitive market. Ryan Nash is the project manager for two properties currently under construction, Terwilliger Place, which is redeveloping the site of American Legion Post 139 and Queens Court, which will deliver 249 apartments later this year.

Keeping the pipeline full is a continual focus. “Costs in our region are so high, acquisition of land or existing properties is really challenging, notes Associate Director Laura London “you have to look at a lot of opportunities to find the one that works with the right location, local commitment, and, ideally, a seller who sees the importance of providing high quality housing for people on every rung of the economic ladder.”

Rounding out the talented team are recently promoted Associate Project Managers Brian Goggin, Becca Garman, and newcomer Amanda Stephenson, Real Estate Administrative Assistant.

“At the end of the day, the work of our development team is all about the people who call an APAH property home,” says Carmen Romero, who led APAH’s real estate for 10 years and was appointed Executive Vice President earlier this year. “We have an incredible team and an incredible opportunity to make a real difference throughout the region. The pandemic has underscored how important essential, both often poorly paid, workers are to our communities as well as necessity for every person to live with dignity and security in a stable and affordable home.”