THE CRESCENT CLUB
Developer: The Domain Cos. Architect: Humphreys & Partners Architects
Major Funders: Centerline Capital; Bank of America/Freddie Mac; Louisiana Office of Community Development; Louisiana Housing Finance Agency; City of New Orleans Road Repair Funds; Capital One; New Orleans Redevelopment Authority
NEW ORLEANS— The Domain Cos.' $53 million Crescent Club community on Tulane Avenue in downtown New Orleans raises the bar of mixed-use development to urban economic and cultural viability where once there was none.
Part of Domain's $125 million—to-date— multi-phase revitalization along New Orleans' Tulane Avenue Corridor, the Crescent Club opened in September 2009 with 228 units, 40 percent of them for lower-income families. Twelve apartments rent at no more than 30 percent of the area median income (AMI), 38 at 40 percent of AMI, and 42 units at no more than 60 percent AMI. Market-rate rents are about 25 percent lower than comparable rents in New Orleans' Central Business District and the French Quarter, say developers.
Further, the project brings 3,000 square feet of retail to the corridor, including a Capital One bank branch, a dry cleaner, a nail salon, a Subway, a gourmet pizza store, a wine bar and tapas restaurant, and a coffee shop run by Liberty's Kitchen (a nonprofit that works to train and place at-risk youth in restaurant industry jobs).
The mixed-income, mixed-use vision for Crescent Club introduces urban residential to a neighborhood whose character—especially post- Katrina—had been commercial and industrial blight. The promise is an emerging bio-tech and medical juggernaut symbolized by the $2.2 billion Louisiana State University Veterans Affairs hospital as well as a new Criminal Justice Center.
Facing stiff headwinds, Domain toiled among state, city, local community, and investment interests to cobble a layering of financial structures to assemble and build out nearly three square blocks, including 12 owners in five states and two non-U.S. countries.
“It's played out as we hoped,” says Matthew Schwartz, co-founder and principal of The Domain Cos. “We've got Class A product near the central business district, amid the emerging medical district, and a new economic center in the city. And we're still at it.” —John McManus
Developers: Citizens Housing Corp. and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. Architect: Daniel Solomon Design Partners / WRT/Solomon E.T.C.
Major Funders: Wells Fargo Bank; City of San Francisco; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; California Department of Housing and Community Development; California Water Resources Control Board Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Program; National Equity Fund, Inc.
SAN FRANCISCO— Mosaica, true to its name, offers the Mission District 151 new living units and commercial spaces whose distinct parts add up to a complexly balanced blend of affordable rental and ownership housing, as well as needed local business uses on site.
Encompassing a city block bordered by 18th, 19th, Florida, and Alabama streets, the $75 million project went live in April 2009, featuring both ownership condos and affordable rental units. Among 117 affordable rental apartments, 93 are for families who earn no more than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), and 24 are for seniors who earn from 15 percent to 35 percent of AMI. Lutheran Social Services provides 20 of the family apartments and 11 of the seniors units with an array of supportive services.
Of Mosaica's 34 for-sale units, 13 are market- rate condos, and 21 are priced for affordability among households earning 80 percent to 120 percent of AMI. Its transit-oriented location, on-site solar photovoltaics, and Energy Star-rated appliances and windows make it a green project, to boot.
Lead developer Citizens Housing navigated an odyssey of community, financial, and construction balances to realize the project. It started with a decrepit truck rental site that needed a costly environmental remediation. Citizens teamed with Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp.—which has taken on ownership— evolving the project into a next-generation real-world model of live-work diversity, sustainability, and practicality, with the San Francisco Planning Department's production, distribution, and repair imperatives built into the DNA of an affordable neighborhood.
“Each stand-alone part involved complexity on the financing and community outreach side,” says Noreen Beiro, who formerly was interim president of Citizens Housing and now works consultatively with Citizens. “The multiple array of products and services and the complicated stream of overarching agreements make this project a truly impressive mosaic.” —John McManus
Developer: Church Community Housing Corp. Architect: Donald Powers Architects
Major Funders: Rhode Island Housing; Building Homes Rhode Island; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston; Town of Tiverton; Rhode Island Foundation; Citizens Bank; Rhode Island Department of Energy
TIVERTON, R.I.— The charter residents of Tiverton's Sandywoods Farm art and agricultural affordable housing community will move in as this issue goes to press this summer. Eventually, 50 households will be renting cottages and 24 families will be in for-sale single-family homes.
Developed by Newport, R.I.-based Church Community Housing Corp. (CCHC), Sandywoods Farm organizes rural housing around a perimeter of a larger agricultural preserve, 29 acres of which will be farmed by the residents along with a resident farmer. The project combines farming with housing for working families, as well as commercial space to sell farm products and galleries for art exhibitions, while 111 acres of the tract are now and forever in the hands of the Tiverton Land Trust.
Eighty percent of the 50 rental cottages will be affordable to households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), and 20 percent will rent between 60 percent and 80 percent of AMI. Two of the project's 24 single-family homes will go to first-time home buyers, while the others sell for market rate.
With a nod to picturesque New England architecture, the buildings will incorporate structural insulated panels, low-e windows, cellulose insulation, Energy Star appliances, and high-efficiency heating and ventilation systems, 70 percent of whose power will come from an on-site wind turbine.
If this model of genuine rural new urbanism seems like a bundle of contradictions in terms, it is. “The sheer complexity of the multiple, potentially competing goals of this project was a challenge to cobble together,” says Ann Berman, assistant director of development for Rhode Island Housing, the project's primary state lending source. “It took a couple of tries before they were successful getting funding because of the complications. But it's the right thing to do with the land, and we're proud to be involved with the CCHC team.” —John McManus