Tulsa Housing Authority and The Michaels Organization are transforming a former public housing site into a new mixed-income development.
Tulsa Housing Authority and The Michaels Organization are transforming a former public housing site into a new mixed-income development.

The Tulsa Housing Authority (THA) has taken two big steps to provide and improve affordable housing in its Oklahoma community.

THA, with co-developer The Michaels Organization (TMO), has closed on the $19 million Phase IV financing for Choice Neighborhoods—River West, a mixed-income workforce housing development. The overall River West project represents the largest investment in affordable housing in the city’s history, totaling more than $180 million.

In another move, THA also announced that it has acquired the 353-unit Country Club Gardens Apartments from TMO, furthering its commitment to preserving and increasing affordable housing in Tulsa.

Phase IV of the historic River West project includes 65 units, with 39 subsidized replacement units, 15 low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) units, and 11 market-rate units. Housing for Phase IV includes six two- to three-story, walk-up, garden-style buildings. Phase IV represents the last phase of the project to be built on the former Riverview Park Apartments public housing site footprint.

“It’s been incredible to witness what once was the Eugene Field neighborhood transform into River West. This project speaks to the power of mixed-income communities and their ability to drive transformative change for an entire neighborhood,” said Aaron Darden, THA president and CEO. “Financing for Phase IV represents a true commitment from a variety of partners to create a better Tulsa by transforming lives and communities.”

Phase IV funding includes a Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 221(d)(4) loan and bridge financing provided by M&T Reality Capital Corp. and M&T Bank, a 9% LIHTC investment from RBC Community Investments, and investments from The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation and George Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We are pleased to partner with the city of Tulsa and the Tulsa Housing Authority on this exciting and ambitious project,” said Luci Blackburn, HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods director. "The Choice Neighborhoods program significantly invests in affordable housing, resident opportunity, and neighborhood improvements with a goal of creating equitable communities where all residents can prosper. We are thrilled to see the River West project move toward completion with HUD’s support.”

According to TMO regional vice president Greg Olson, the redevelopment of the Eugene Field neighborhood has been years in the making and is one of the most significant redevelopment efforts that the city of Tulsa and THA has undertaken. "Michaels is proud to have played a role in these efforts and look forward to building out the remainder of the neighborhood,” he said.

THA and the city were awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant by HUD in 2017 to launch the transformation of the Eugene Field neighborhood into River West, a mixed-income community. The housing authority selected TMO as its co-developer. The Choice Tulsa Transformation Plan includes the construction of up to 430 mixed-income apartments, a renovated West Tulsa Park, and extensive public infrastructure and stormwater improvements. Project totals are estimated at more than $180 million, representing Tulsa’s largest investment in affordable housing to date.

RAD Conversion

The 353-unit Country Club Gardens’ acquisition by THA and rehabilitation project will invest $60 million across five phases during an 18-month construction period administered by TMO subsidiary entity Prestige Construction. The site’s multifamily and senior mid-rise tower units will undergo conversion to the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program as THA seeks to convert all of its portfolio, nearly 3,000 units, to RAD in the next several years.

“We’re very excited to have Country Club Gardens back in our portfolio, as it was a successful HOPE VI project and will certainly be a successful RAD conversion that will improve the community,” said THA’s Darden. “This addition of more than 350 units to our portfolio will allow us to continue to create a better Tulsa by transforming lives and communities.”

Originally developed around 2003 as a HOPE VI project with a 15-year LIHTC compliance period, THA invested more than 18 months toward the acquisition of the property from TMO, including securing financing partners to strategically recapitalize the asset to best preserve and expand affordability.

Financing for the acquisition and rehabilitation was achieved with a 4% LIHTC commitment from the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, a $12 million investment from RBC Community Investments, and $30 million in tax-exempt bonds financed by Citi Community Capital, which also provided permanent debt of $18 million.

All eligible residents will be given first right to return upon completion of unit rehabilitation. THA has partnered with Urban Strategies as lead on resident services to support the relocation effort during the construction period.