McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS) continues to be at the forefront of transforming distressed urban neighborhoods into vibrant mixed-income, mixed-use communities.

Vince Bennett 
Vince Bennett 

The St. Louis–based firm is directly or indirectly involved with seven Choice Neighborhoods Initiatives, the successor to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) HOPE VI program. The program promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming neighborhoods into high-opportunity communities through the replacement of distressed and assisted housing with mixed-income communities and connections to amenities and assets such as grocery stores, schools, and other services.

MBS started the first phases of Choice Neighborhoods Initiatives with more than 560 units in Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; and San Francisco in 2015. The firm is also part of three teams—Atlanta, Memphis, and Sacramento, Calif.—selected by HUD last year.

“In the best example, we’re achieving not only our mixed-income goals, but the families that are returning are connected to strong supportive services to help them and their children succeed,” says Vince Bennett, who took over as MBS president this year from Kevin McCormack, now CEO of the corporate holding company, MBA Properties. “The key differentiator that we find from HOPE VI to the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is the program’s goals to break down silos and just go beyond the footprint of the public housing site.”

The firm also broke ground last year on a mixed-income development in Detroit, its first in the Motor City in two decades, after a call for reinvestment from foundations and sponsors.

“Richard Baron, the company co-founder, is from Detroit. He wanted to come back and find an opportunity where he and the firm could contribute to the city’s rebirth,” Bennett says.

Orleans Landing, which is being built on a brownfield site on Detroit’s east riverfront, will include rents at affordable levels as well as a market-rate component.