Developer: The Community Builders Inc.
Owner: Charlesview Housing LP
Location: Brighton, Mass.
The winner of the 2014 LIHTC Development that Best Demonstrates Financial Innovation Award is The Community Builders Inc. for the development of Charlesview Residences in Brighton, Mass. The developers used low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) to transform and expand the former Charlesview Apartments building into a mixed-income and mixed-use facility. Charlesview Residences is a 22-building community that features 240 apartment units, retail space, a community center and a new parking structure.
James Madden, project manager of The Community Builders Inc., says the developers used innovative approaches to secure funding, including executing the first Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract “porting” transfer in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) New England region. The development team transferred the existing project-based rent subsidies from the old site, Charlesview Apartments, to the new complex to create homes for the original residents. This use of the HAP contract transfer led to a land swap with Harvard University. The Community Builders leveraged the HAP contract financing model by combining it with multiple public and private sources of funding. These funding sources included $28.5 million in LIHTC equity with Aegon USA Realty Advisors (who were acting on behalf of Google), $3.8 million in tax-exempt bond financing, equity from Massachusetts Brownfield tax credits and $2 million in public funds to cover gap financing, which will be repaid within 10 years. Madden says the debt closing on Charlesview Residences is the largest MassHousing has completed.
In addition to demonstrating financial innovation, this development will also benefit the community. Madden says that because affordable housing and land are in shorty supply in Boston, the new units will help meet the housing demands of the local community. Currently, 199 units, which are LIHTC eligible and HAP supported, are leased to low-income households, and 41 units are leased to moderate-income households. Charlesview Residences also provides family-sized affordable units with three or four bedrooms, which Madden says are uncommon in Boston.
Charlesview Residences also provides services and amenities to its residents and the broader Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston. Hundreds of local residents visit the community and computer centers each week to attend educational sessions, which cover adult education, substance abuse recovery, homebuyer education, nutrition and fitness. Additionally, a full-time resident services coordinator provides case management support to Charlesview’s residents. Every resident has an in-unit washer and dryer, an underground parking space, storage and Energy Star appliances. The development is LEED Silver certifiable.
“[A] massive redevelopment with preservation of existing affordable units and significant infrastructure improvements. High cost, even for Boston, but the results are impressive,” said James Tassos, a 2014 Community Development Awards judge.