A new affordable housing company has emerged with a familiar team.

Völker Development is the latest business established by Louie Lange III, who was a principal and founder of The Commonwealth Cos., a major affordable housing developer and owner headquartered in Wisconsin.

Louie Lange III
Studio L 2013 Louie Lange III

Like his previous company, Völker Development will focus on affordable housing as well as workforce housing.

“First and foremost, I sincerely do love the business,” Lange tells Affordable Housing Finance. “I have said for years how lucky we all are to be doing work where we can make a good living for ourselves and at the same time make so many others’ lives better. More to the point, why a new company? I guess you could say I like creating businesses. I founded Commonwealth in 2001 and in 2012 a dental service organization that was sold to a PE [private equity] firm a few years ago. Starting a new firm is a challenge but a great opportunity to consider today’s industry realities, start fresh, and apply lessons learned from the past 20-plus years. That all said, full disclosure, it is really very exciting to start a new company at this point in my career, and the energy around that is probably the greatest draw.”

Headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Völker Development recently closed on the financing for its first project.

The firm, with nonprofit partner Famicos Foundation, is developing Garrett Square Senior Apartments, a 49-unit affordable housing development for seniors in Cleveland, reports Adam Hanson, president of Völker Development. KeyBank is the financial partner.

Hanson previously served as CEO of Commonwealth Development. Several others from the firm have also moved to Völker Development.

“We’re really seeking to be a partner of choice, not just for financing partners but also communities,” Hanson says. “We’re approaching development efforts with an ownership-first mentality, not seeking deals just to do deals. We are taking a long-term approach.”

Adam Hanson
Adam Hanson

For the first time in more than 20 years, Lange is no longer involved in Commonwealth Development after selling his interests in the firm, which recently ranked No. 12 on the AHF 50 list of top developers.
However, he had always maintained 100% ownership in Commonwealth Management Corp., which has 77 employees. That business will be rebranded to Völker Management at the end of the year, he says.

The new company’s name comes from the German word meaning people.

“It really represents what we want to be about as a company internally and externally,” Lange says. “We each have all these different ‘customers’, coworkers, residents, state agencies, investors, lenders, contractors, and the list goes on, but at the heart them all is just people. It’s the relationships we develop with those people that determines the outcomes and ultimately the success or failure of Völker. Völker simply is people creating housing for people.”