Cevallos Lofts
Cevallos Lofts

With a strong 2011, Cleveland-based The NRP Group has landed in the No. 1 spot of Affordable Housing Finance's Top 50 developers list.

Last year, the developer started 2,278 units in 19 projects, up from 1,941 units in 21 projects started in 2010, and completed 2,057 units in 21 projects. It boosted the occupancy of its overall portfolio to more than 96 percent.

Principal J. David Heller says the overall industry was a big help in 2011. “The state agencies and the investors allowed us to be more successful in different states where we were applying.”

He adds that the for-profit did more deals with nonprofits who received awards and needed a partner with financial strength and capacity.

A few of the projects that stand out for Heller in 2011 came at the end of the year.

The NRP Group completed four developments in Detroit in December—three single-family lease-purchase projects and the 48-unit, second-phase Connor Creek Elderly II.

“Building in urban Detroit creates a whole set of challenges because of the urban ills that exist,” says Heller. “But with the help of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and our nonprofit partners, we were able to overcome the adversity.”

Lease-up hasn't taken long on the three single-family projects. The 30-unit Maxwell Homes and 45-unit Northwest Unity Homes II were 100 percent occupied at press time, while the 45-unit West Oakland Homes was 96 percent occupied.

“The demand in Detroit for single-family homes is really quite remarkable,” Heller adds.

Another highlight from 2011 is the 252-unit Cevallos Lofts, the company's first 80-20 deal in San Antonio. The project, which finished construction in December, was 70 percent occupied and 90 percent leased within two months of opening. “That one was quite unique because we had to appeal to the market-rate customer as well as the affordable customer.” 

The NRP Group, which ranks No. 28 on the Top  50 owners list and owns more than 100 projects with 8,328 units, also implemented a new proprietary asset management portal that allows the team to look at operating expenses across the portfolio as well as put together the financials for future developments. “That has helped us be more accurate in our financial modeling and will ultimately pan out for better deals,” says Heller.

For 2012, there are some firsts ahead for The NRP Group. It will be starting its first development in Pennsylvania—the 44-unit Farrell Homes in Farrell, just across the border from Youngstown, Ohio. The developer hopes to have its first projects awarded low-income housing tax credits in South Carolina and plans to re-enter the bond market in Texas.

In addition to its affordable housing work, the developer expects to increase its market-rate starts by nearly 160 percent, from 890 to 2,340 units this year.