LAUDERDALE LAKES, FLA. The Broward County Housing Authority (BCHA) is having its busiest year.

The agency started construction on two low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) developments in December and is scheduled to begin a third project this spring.

Totaling $49 million in development costs, the projects will provide 241 new affordable units in Broward County as well as create 235 jobs.

“There doesn't seem to be a slacking off in need,” says CEO Kevin Cregan. “With foreclosures and the reluctance of people to buy, the demand for rental housing is greater than it's ever been."

The diverse developments—garden- style apartments, a high-rise, and townhomes in three different communities— will boost the housing authority's portfolio by nearly 50 percent. In addition to 490 affordable apartments, BCHA operates another 384 public housing units and administers 6,500 Sec. 8 housing vouchers.

Three deals in 2011

Despite the tough economic climate, BCHA was able to close financing and start construction on the 155-unit East Village at the end of last year. The $32 million project is being developed with Carlisle Development Group, a leading Miami-based for-profit affordable housing developer.

Located in the town of Davie, the development is being built where an obsolete public housing project stood. The housing project was about 35 years old and had been damaged in Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Officials demolished the development and purchased three acres next to it to create a site of just under 13 acres.

The garden-style development, which is scheduled to be completed in early 2012, will feature a clubhouse, a pool, and a tot lot. Officials are hoping to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold designation.

“We are thrilled to be working with Broward County Housing Authority again,” says Ken Naylor, senior vice president of development at Carlisle. “Our most gratifying ventures involve helping nonprofits, housing authorities, and other government entities build the capacity to development and manage superior properties like East Village."

East Village is being financed with roughly $20 million in LIHTCs syndicated by The Richman Group Affordable Housing Corp. and $5 million in Tax Credit Exchange Program funds from Florida Housing.

The town of Davie is providing State Housing Initiative Partnership funds, and Broward County contributed HOME funds. Citibank is the construction and permanent lender BCHA has also started construction on Progresso Point, a 76-unit high-rise near Fort Lauderdale with nonprofit Reliance Housing Foundation.

The apartments will be in walking distance to many of the downtown offices and businesses, says Cregan, who has been with the housing authority since 1989 and director since 1996. He is retiring at the end of March.

The project will stand eight floors, with a recreation area on the fourth floor and a parking garage. The $15 million development is financed with about $14.5 million in LIHTCs from the National Equity Fund, Inc., and $5 million in exchange funds.

Broward County contributed about $250,000 in HOME funds. Bank of America is the construction and permanent lender. The Local Initiatives Support Corp. provided a loan guarantee.

Like East Village, Progresso Point is scheduled to be finished in the first half of next year.

BCHA hopes to start construction on a third project in April. Although the firm's strategy is to partner with other developers, it's flying solo to build the Crystal Lake Townhomes in Hollywood.

The 10 rental townhomes will reach residents earning up to about 120 percent of the area median income.

Broward County is providing a $500,000 grant, and BCHA is financing the rest of the nearly $2 million project from its own accounts.

To help oversee all the new construction, the agency recently added two general contractors to its staff.

The move is proving to be less expensive than hiring an outside firm and has given BCHA the oversight it wants, says Cregan.

Looking ahead, he says BCHA may move in a different direction and explore acquisition opportunities.

When the real estate bubble burst a few years ago, some developers had to halt their projects. In some cases, they may have acquired permits or even completed part of a project. “Those are opportunities to perhaps acquire and complete construction on,” says Cregan.