Since time out of mind, powerful forces have been teaming up as dynamic duos. Batman and Robin. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And now, big builders and public sector organizations.
In 2003, BCHA began an initiative to replace an existing public housing complex, Crystal Lake, in the Liberia neighborhood of Hollywood, Fla. The group posted an RFP for a joint venture partner in a public-private collaboration, and Pinnacle won out, according to partner Michael Wohl.
"Our core business is building affordable housing," Wohl explains. "Quite recently, in the last three or four years, we've been focusing on the redevelopment of existing public housing facilities [that have become] obsolete in terms of design and functionality into brand new affordable housing."
The joint venture applied for tax credits and local grants, including grants from the city of Hollywood and Broward County, to facilitate the project.
Pinnacle dealt with HUD to obtain a disposition in order to demolish the existing structure as well as a relocation grant to serve its residents. The developer obtained affordable housing relocation vouchers for 190 families–100 percent of Crystal Lake's existing tenants.
"The relocation went very, very well," says Wohl. "Existing tenants had the right of first refusal to come back and occupy the newly-renovated tax credit housing."
However, although studies have shown that 10 to 15 percent of relocated residents typically return once a redevelopment occurs, according to Wohl, less than 10 percent of Crystal Lake's former residents decided to come back.
After reestablishing themselves in a new community and enrolling their children in the local school, the rest opted to stay rather than disrupt their children's education by moving back to Crystal Lake.
But thanks to the project's scope, there is little doubt that it will find occupants. The property boasts improved access and flow, and utilizes the lake as a visual amenity; many units feature a waterfront view.
"The amenities are similar to a market-rate development," Wohl says, and include a tot lot, exercise room, and clubhouse complete with computer lounge. A 2,400-square-foot facility has been built to house the Liberia Economic and Social Development CDC, encouraging the continuation of housing and community development services within the neighborhood.
"We're very conscious of the fact that we're going to own these [developments] for a very long period of time," says Wohl, noting obligations to debt/equity sources for upward of 50 years. "We want to make sure they're sustainable, and certainly part of that is being conscious of the communities we develop in and taking care of resources."
Pinnacle succeeded in replacing the 190 rental units with a strip of unused land left over, on which it plans to build six to nine units of workforce-level, for-sale housing–either townhomes or single-family, zero-lot line residences.
"Bring in an experienced partner who's been involved in government-related developments before, or bring in a consultant to advise [you]," Wohl recommends. "As far as I'm concerned, public-private partnerships are going to be essential in solving the affordability issue with quality workforce and affordable housing."