To build more affordable housing and boost their businesses, AHF 50 developers and owners have taken key steps in the past year Here’s a glance at some of the innovative moves and projects they’ve been working on.
The Annex Group
Last year was a record-breaking year for The Annex Group (No. 15 developer). The firm’s portfolio is valued at more than $500 million, and the company has developed more than $1 billion worth of projects, most of which have been ground-up construction. In 2021, The Annex Group expanded beyond its Midwest roots to add properties or develop plans for properties in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and Washington. In addition to expanding its Indianapolis headquarters, the company opened a satellite office in Denver.
Chelsea Investment Corp.
Chelsea Investment Corp., in partnership with the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, recently developed Salerno, an 80-unit, 100% affordable community, with designated special-needs units, in Irvine, California. In addition, the firm closed escrow on what will be a 278-unit high-rise for the homeless called Weingart Tower in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. These are the firm’s first projects in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Also in Southern California, Chelsea (No. 20 developer and No. 46 owner) recently welcomed state and local leaders to the grand opening of Saint Teresa of Calcutta Villa, a 407-unit affordable housing community in partnership with Father Joe’s Villages. The project is home to more than 500 San Diegans transitioning out of homelessness.
Community Development Partners
Community Development Partners (No. 33 developer), based in Newport Beach, California, nearly tripled the number of units under development for new construction starts from 188 units in 2020 to 497 units last year. A highlight for the developer was transforming an underutilized retail plaza and surface parking lot into a community-oriented urban hub. Located in the heart of Santa Ana, La Placita Cinco provides 51 units of affordable housing and support for existing retail tenants in a neighborhood that had not seen significant investment in over five decades. It also will provide family housing along new light rail planned for Santa Ana.
Community Preservation Partners
In the past year, Community Preservation Partners (No. 50 owner) has expanded its portfolio by investing in new communities in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. CPP has invested nearly $350 million to purchase and transform almost 1,200 units and preserve housing affordability. As a result, more than 4,000 individuals have received brand-new upgraded apartments, exterior renovations, community amenities, and social services. This year, CPP plans to expand into new states with preservation projects as well as add new construction projects to its portfolio. It projects acquiring 17 affordable housing developments with almost 2,400 units in 2022.
Eden Housing’s pipeline is seeing a large increase in the number of permanent supportive housing (PSH) units included in its development. This reflects California’s push to house its most vulnerable populations, according to Eden (No. 39 owner and No. 48 developer). Every new project, except one family development, has at least 5% of its units dedicated to PSH but typically will have at least 25% set aside for PSH populations. Headquartered in Northern California, the nonprofit has also started its first 100% modular construction development near downtown Vallejo along with more adaptive-reuse projects, including developing a former U.S. Coast Guard site in Marin County into housing.
Enterprise Community Development
The Mid-Atlantic developer (No. 31 owner) launched the Let’s Build Accelerator, a program designed to accelerate impact through new partnerships. This is a model by which BIPOC, community, and faith-based groups can work with Enterprise to bring neighborhood-oriented projects to fruition. Enterprise leverages its talents and resources to execute meaningful partnerships that will allow for participation in a substantive way, as financial partners and co-developers, leading to successful projects, enhanced development capacity, and long-term wealth creation. Enterprise has closed its initial round of funding, securing $5 million in equity, which will be invested in partners who wish to join forces to co-develop projects they’ve sourced.
Fairstead leads the affordable housing companies completing substantial rehabs in 2021, with 2,191 units in 10 properties. It also ranks as the No. 4 firm for completing acquisitions and the No. 34 owner. A significant highlight for the firm in 2021 was its partnership with Invesco Real Estate to acquire 1,904 affordable units in the Bronx, making it New York City’s largest affordable housing deal of the year. The portfolio spans across 48 buildings, and all units are operated under a regulatory agreement serving residents earning between 30% and 100% of the area median income.
Fitch Irick Partners
In 2021, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Fitch Irick (No. 44 owner and No. 39 developer) went through a corporate reorganization and recapitalization to position the company for future growth. According to the company, it is now well positioned for expanding its acquisitions platform as well as its development team. In addition, the company formed a joint venture with an institutional capital partner to complete acquisitions of affordable housing portfolios. Fitch Irick has helped principals with large portfolios transition into retirement, and the new joint-venture partnership is expected to assist the company in completing larger portfolio acquisitions.
Gorman & Co.
Gorman & Co. (No. 13 developer) is at work on a $300 million transformation of Phoenix’s Edison-Eastlake community, home to Arizona’s largest concentration of public housing. After securing a $1.5 million Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in 2016, Gorman, in partnership with the city, spent two years crafting a transformation plan that led to a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation award in 2018. The plan calls for the replacement of all existing public housing units with over 1,100 new units of mixed-income housing. The proposal includes a 20% market-rate component, a one-for-one replacement of all existing public housing units, and new tax credit-assisted units, as well as a homeownership element. Significant park and neighborhood improvements are part of the plan as well. In 2021, the firm completed construction on the first phase, Soluna I and II, which was 166 units of new mixed-income housing. The second phase, which also closed and broke ground in 2021, is called Harmony at the Park I and II and involves the construction of 235 additional units. Each of the first two phases was bifurcated into a 9% and a 4% housing tax credit blended transaction.
Gulf Coast Housing Partnership
New Orleans-based Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (No. 40 developer), a nonprofit that seeks to revitalize the Gulf Coast through transformative development, completed its first storm-resilient family development and the historic rehabilitation for Louisiana’s largest substance abuse treatment provider in 2021. It also closed on the financial transaction for its first Health + Housing pilot project that combines affordable housing and accessible health care with preferential financing from health care payors. Construction began earlier this year on the H3C in Central City New Orleans, which will provide 192 apartments, with 92 reserved for seniors 55 and older and designed for aging in place, and commercial and community space anchored by a Federally Qualified Health Center operated by DePaul Community Health Centers.
Jonathan Rose Cos.
In 2021, Jonathan Rose Cos. (No. 14 owner and No. 50 developer) made substantial strides toward its environmental performance goals by investing in energy and water efficiency, healthy operations, clean energy, and decarbonization. Across the portfolio, the firm reduced energy use by 9%, emissions by 10%, and water use by 6% from a collective baseline year to 2020. In addition, it earned seven Enterprise Green Communities certifications and four Energy Star certifications, bringing the number of active properties with green certifications to 43, covering 48% of the portfolio by property count. To reduce water consumption and detect leaks, it deployed water monitoring sensors across 75% of the Rose Community Management portfolio.
Lincoln Avenue Capital
Lincoln Avenue Capital tops the list of firms completing acquisitions in 2021 with more than 8,700 units in 56 properties. It also comes in at No. 3 on the list of firms completing substantial rehabs last year with eight properties comprised of 1,697 units. Although the California-based firm has largely been active through acquisitions, it added seven developers to work on its ground-up development goals last year. At the end of 2021, Lincoln Avenue Capital, the No. 18 owner on the AHF 50, had more than 10 new construction projects under contract.
MVAH Partners (No. 49 owner and No. 11 developer), an Ohio-based development firm formed by industry veterans Brian McGeady and Michael Riechman in 2018, continues to make strides. Last year was its strongest so far in terms of new business. The developer received a record 14 9% low-income housing tax credit awards in 2021. MVAH started eight developments with nearly 1,100 units last year, moving up to No. 11 on the AHF 50 developer list from No. 36. The firm has strong goals for the coming year, with plans to start another 23 developments with nearly 1,600 units.
National Church Residences
As one of the nation’s largest owners of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contract (PRAC) senior housing properties, National Church Residences (No. 10 owner) has been a leading advocate for long-term preservation strategies for these aging properties. After several years of working with HUD to operationalize the Rental Assistance Demonstration for PRAC program and processes, National Church Residences became the first owner in the nation to initiate and complete conversion through the program. In 2021, the rehabilitation of Hopeton Terrace in Chillicothe, Ohio, was completed, which will preserve this affordable senior community for many years to come. Hopeton Terrace was built in 1994 with a HUD Section 202 capital advance and provided rental assistance under the Section 202 PRAC program and has since been providing 45 affordable one-bedroom apartments for seniors 62 and older.
New to the AHF 50 developers list is Las Vegas-based Nevada HAND (No. 26 developer), the state’s largest affordable housing developer. The firm had an active 2021, starting construction on its largest multifamily community to date. Decatur Commons in Las Vegas will provide 240 senior and 240 family units with over 10,000 square feet of commercial space. Decatur Commons involved creative financing in order to come to fruition. The developer partnered with George Gekakis as a co-general partner in order to build this complex development, which utilizes 9% and 4% housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, and HOME funds from Las Vegas and Clark County. According to the developer, it also is the first project to be awarded Nevada state affordable housing tax credits.
The NRP Group
In addition to delivering a well-balanced pipeline of affordable, multifamily projects, The NRP Group (No. 3 developer and No. 12 owner) surpassed more than 1,000 employees nationally. In conjunction with the firm’s growth, NRP promoted Aaron Pechota to executive vice president of development and head of affordable housing for its 15-state footprint. In his role, Pechota is working to expand the development pipeline of affordable housing communities in strategic growth markets across the U.S. and supporting areas where NRP has a strong affordable housing presence.
Pennrose (No. 24 developer and No. 36 owner) is redeveloping three former schools in Massachusetts, including the William Barton Rogers Middle School, formerly Hyde Park High School, in Boston. Originally built in 1902, the building is no longer able to serve as a school, but it remains an important neighborhood anchor. Pennrose is reactivating the school into a mixed-income LGBTQ-friendly senior housing community with approximately 75 units and community space.
Preservation of Affordable Housing
Preservation of Affordable Housing (No. 33 owner) plans to continue to grow through new acquisitions as well as the start of new development projects in the coming year. The nonprofit also says it will continue to prioritize its community impact work as a way to enhance the quality of life for its 20,000 low- and moderate-income residents. To achieve this, it will expand its Family Self-Sufficiency Program to at least 75% of all eligible families, will launch a new trauma-informed approach to engage its residents, and will take steps to expand high-speed internet access to bridge the digital divide.
Prestwick Development Co.
Prestwick Development Co. (No. 14 developer) has been active in creating affordable housing on the Atlanta BeltLine, one of the largest urban redevelopment programs in the U.S. This network of parks, trails, transit, and affordable housing along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor has the goal of enhancing mobility, connecting intown neighborhoods, and improving economic opportunity and sustainability in Prestwick’s hometown. The developer completed the 182-unit Parkside Apartments, which provides affordable and workforce housing steps from the BeltLine as well as across the street from the future Microsoft Quarry Yards project. Last year, it also began construction on its fourth Atlanta BeltLine project—a 160-unit affordable seniors housing development on the border of the Chosewood Park and South Atlanta neighborhoods.
RISE Residential Construction
RISE Residential Construction (No. 7 developer) focused on new markets in 2021. The Dallas-based company recently became active in Las Vegas, Louisiana, and Utah while adding to its portfolio in Oklahoma and Texas. In addition, the firm expanded its management group and will push for more third-party management opportunities this year.
Standard Communities (No. 26 owner) launched the Standard Faring Essential Housing fund with the goal of creating $2 billion of “missing middle” workforce housing throughout California. In another move, the firm established an Affordable Housing Bootcamp for college students across the country in partnership with Project Destined.
T&H Investment Properties
T&H Investment Properties debuts on the AHF 50 developers list at No. 47 after starting construction on five developments with 359 affordable units last year. The company is a new partnership between Jana Hageman and Duane Miller, who led Flaherty & Collins Properties’ affordable housing division for 20 years.
USA Properties Fund
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2021, USA Properties Fund (No. 32 owner and No. 45 developer) started pre-development and/or construction on 1,600 units, a company record that it plans to surpass this year. The Roseville, California, developer recently had another milestone, starting its first project in Oregon earlier this year. The developer has partnered with Northwest Housing Alternatives and Oregon Housing and Community Services on the 169-unit Canopy Apartments at Powell in Portland.
Vounteers of America
Volunteers of America (No. 8 owner and No. 29 developer) is working to find solutions to the national crisis of housing and health injustices. In 2021, the affordable housing owner established the Housing for Health and Justice Fund, designed to provide flexible capital supporting its commitment to improve the health and wellness of residents by providing stable, safe, and long-term solutions for affordable housing. The fund will assist with the acquisition and development of affordable housing in rural counties as well as increasing affordable housing options in neglected urban areas for BIPOC households. Its commitment includes wireless access in new developments and design that enables aging in place.