Developer: NewLife Homes Inc.
Owner: NewLife Homes Inc.
Location: Albuquerque, N. M.
The Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits is pleased to award the 2013 Historic Tax Credit Development that Overcame Significant Obstacles to NewLife Homes Inc. for using innovative solutions to repurpose a historic Route 66 motel into affordable housing in Albuquerque, N.M. Since the inception of the Luna Lodge development, NewLife Homes faced serious obstacles in transforming the 1940s era motel into 30 residential units —14 in the original historic building and 16 in an adjacent addition. The first obstacle NewLife Homes overcame was a legal challenge regarding the rezoning required for the property, which the company fought for all the way to the Court of Appeals. During the construction period, a change in the contractor’s ownership also jeopardized the budget and completion date of construction. Luna Lodge also encountered a number of financing obstacles common during a time of economic instability, including the need to be financed without any permanent debt so that the rental units would be available for those most in need. The development also faced the challenge of attaining LEED platinum status, which is the highest level of energy efficiency and a status traditionally difficult for historic rehabilitation projects to attain.
Though confronted with multiple challenges, NewLife Homes persevered and employed various creative solutions to complete Luna Lodge. Some of these innovative methods include mobilizing city legal staff to approve a “text zone” change, undergoing a complete re-staffing during the construction period and utilizing new methods of financing to deliver affordable housing. In 2010, the economic climate was not favorable to developers, as tax credit equity prices were at all-time lows and lenders had adopted conservative positions. NewLife Homes overcame these obstacles by piercing together funding from multiple sources to remain debt free, including federal historic tax credits, 9 percent low-income housing tax credits, grants from the city of Albuquerque and significant equity advances from RBC Tax Credit Equity LLC. NewLife Homes also lowered development costs by receiving pro bono architectural services and negotiating exemptions from the city.
Today, NewLife Homes continues to achieve its goals of providing a long-lasting positive impact on the East Gateway district in Albuquerque. Luna Lodge provides social services that promote independence and stability for its residents, many of whom have physical and mental disabilities. Additional services include food delivery, life-skills classes, English courses and financial literacy training. NewLife Homes is also currently seeking businesses and nonprofit agencies to move into the commercial space in front of Luna Lodge to add further value to both the neighborhood and residents.
Congratulations to NewLife Homes Inc. for persevering in the face of multiple obstacles to transform a historic Route 66 motel into an affordable housing solution for the surrounding community.