Editor’s note: AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE has selected 15 outstanding industry leaders under the age of 40. These 15 individuals will be featured in the June, July, September, October, and November issues of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE. For a complete list of the 2008 Young Leaders, go to www.housingfinance.com or see the ad on page 50.
Affordable housing was always in Matt Greer’s blood. You might even say Carlisle Development Group was always in his blood.
The biggest affordable housing developer in Florida was co-founded by Greer’s dad, Bruce Greer, along with Lloyd Boggio and several others. But while the son showed some interest in his dad’s business —he wrote his college thesis on affordable housing, using Carlisle as a case study—those around him always assumed he would follow another path. Even Lloyd Boggio, the longtime CEO whom Greer bought out in 2007.
“When he began working with us I always said that I expected it to be temporary, until he found other worlds to conquer —but it got to the point where he kind of got the bug,” said Boggio. Greer, now 30, had come to the company from Wall Street, where he worked first for an investment bank and later for a hedge fund.
His conversion to an affordable housing evangelist started with a simple, practical idea Greer stumbled across at the hedge fund: Real estate offers good profit-making opportunities. So he decided, “I wanted to go back to grad school and see if that was something I was cut out to do,” Greer said.
Armed with a master’s degree in real estate development and a fresh, youthful perspective, Greer took Carlisle by storm. Within a year of joining the company as an analyst in 2004, he was promoted to chief operating officer. He raised capital; invested in technology (BlackBerries and wikis, or online file-sharing services, are a common collaboration tool), people, and training; and led a reorganization that made the company more efficient and innovative.
These efforts are why he has been named one of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE’s 2008 Young Leaders. “The biggest thing he’s done is really change the culture of the company,” said Boggio. “I’m very much a legal pad and ballpoint pen kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a guy, and Matt’s much more a product of the 21st century.”
Greer has prodded the company to expand into new markets where it can create both social and economic value. “We’re working more and more on placemaking as opposed to just development,” he said.
Carlisle has made a move into workforce housing, mixed-use projects, transitoriented development, and green building. It even pushed the state to allow developments aimed specifically at youths aging out of the foster-care system, who had previously been legally deemed students by Florida officials, and thus not eligible for affordable housing.
“There’s no extra points in my funding process for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification at this point; there’s no extra points for [housing] youths aging out of foster care,” said Steve Auger, executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp., who pointed to a recent Carlisle development in Broward County that will have units for youths leaving the foster-care system and that’s expected to be the first LEED-certified affordable rental building in Florida. “Those are just things they’re doing because Matt thinks it’s the right thing to do, and we’re real proud of them for that.”
In addition, Greer prides himself on his ability to come up with innovative, sophisticated financial strategies that allow the company to wring every last dollar out of a deal. Such strategies, he says, are behind Carlisle’s ability to offer LEEDcertified townhouses in one recent development for the unthinkably low price of $65,000 each.
And if Boggio’s perspective on the man is anything to go by, more innovation is in store. Said the former Carlisle CEO: “He’s the brightest young man I’ve ever worked with.”
Greg Gossard and Jeff Jallo had nice, safe desk jobs: Gossard bought historic tax credits for Bank of America, and Jallo did property valuation research for Co-Star Group.
But they took a leap to get into affordable housing development, first as project managers for Hampstead Partners, then as the owners of Hampstead Development Group (HDG), a Hampstead Partners spin-off.
“With development, you’re always doing something different—all day every day,” said Gossard.
They’ve been busy, earning a reputation for innovative developments in quickly changing neighborhoods. Since its founding in 2005, HDG has started work on 600 housing units. Before that, as project managers for Hampstead Partners, Gossard and Jallo worked on another 700 units.
Gossard, 28, and Jallo, 32, are two of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE’s 2008 Young Leaders.
HDG recently outbid a condo converter for R Street Apartments, cluster of four historic buildings in Washington, D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood, not far from a new Whole Foods grocery store. After paying $10.8 million for 130 aging affordable apartments, the firm will do a $23.5 million renovation, financed with low-income housing tax credits. One aim of the project is to meet the tough Enterprise Green Communities standards for sustainable energy-efficient development.
“They only do the most difficult, complicated deals,” said Alex Viorst, managing director for MMA Financial. Viorst has worked with HDG on several developments.