Top 50 Developers Spotlight

#6 The Woda Group

The Woda Group continues to post strong affordable housing numbers year after year, ranking in the top 10 of AHF's developers list for five consecutive years.The firm, headed by principals Jeff Woda and David Cooper Jr., started 17 developments with 723 units and completed nine projects with 386 units in 2014.

Woda is also ramping up for a strong 2015, expecting to start 14 developments with 556 units and to complete 28 with 1,184 units.

"Our key to success is, first and foremost, that we have developed a great staff of development officers who cover a 13-state area, and they've been able to strategically identify markets and types of housing that we want to develop and match states' qualified allocation plans," says Woda, president of the firm. "We're really seeing the fruits of that labor."

A company highlight last year was the completion of three historic rehab projects. Woda says typically the firm does one historic deal a year, but three had been brought to Woda in communities where it had developed previously or close by.

Historic icons Columbus School in Baltimore; Lloyd House in Menominee, Mich.; and Washington School Apartments in Washington Courthouse, Ohio, all were financed with a combination of low-income housing and historic tax credits.

"They're providing quality housing with buildings we were able to save," says Woda. "They're some of the best developments we have ever done." —C.S.

#19 Dunn Development Corp.

2014 was one of the busiest and most successful years for Dunn Development Corp., according to the company's president, Martin Dunn. The firm started more than seven times the number of affordable housing units and completed more than three times the number of units it did overall in 2013.

The Brooklyn, N.Y.–based firm also made its first foray into market-rate homeownership projects and closed its largest single project to date in the borough's East New York neighborhood.

Livonia Commons, with total development costs of $90 million, will help rejuvenate a commercial corridor in East New York that suffered from disinvestment during the 1960s and 1970s.

The mixed-use project will include 278 units of affordable housing across four buildings, with more than half of the units for households earning less than 40% and 50% of the area median income. Fifty-one units of supportive housing will be included in the project with supportive services from CAMBA and The Center for Family Support. The property also will have 28,000 square feet of retail and community space.

Dunn says he expects the first two buildings to open this fall and the second two in the first quarter of 2016.

The last component, which has yet to start construction and is in the planning stage, is a 50,000-square-foot Boys Club of New York.

"It's a very exciting, transformative effort for the neighborhood," says Dunn. —C.S.

#41 Community HousingWorks

When California dissolved its redevelopment agencies (RDAs), developer Community HousingWorks had to look at its business plan and rethink how it would grow.

The San Diego nonprofit made a strategic decision to pursue acquisitions as part of its multif­amily line of business in addition to its new-construction, transit-oriented affordable housing projects.

"It's very important to keep a balance there. There needs to be a healthy balance of new projects that won't need attention physically for the next 15 to 20 years and acquisitions that have different needs," says Anne B. Wilson, senior vice president of housing and real estate finance. "In spite of the loss of the RDAs, we can keep that balance."

The company's multifamily division executed on that balance in 2014, acquiring Community HousingWorks' largest single community, with 200 apartments; acquiring and rehabilitating an 88-unit project; and breaking ground on two 9% low-income housing tax credit developments.

"We've been building that up for a couple of years, but it takes time to get your foot into the acquisitions market," says Wilson. "I think we've been very successful in making acquisitions and competing in that marketplace."

The coming year will see more of that combination of work. The nonprofit plans to celebrate the completion of two projects, including the North Santa Fe Apartments in Vista, Calif., and close the financing and start renovations on 448 units in five projects. —C.S.