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Four Seasons Baltimore Harbor East on Jan. 31, 2012
250 joined us for our Affordable Housing Summit on Tuesday, where the taken-for-granted topic was, of course, money.
Margaret Allen and Chickie Grayson at the Four Seasons Baltimore Harbor East on Jan. 31, 2012
AGM Financial Services CEO Margaret Allen (left, with Enterprise Homes CEO Chickie Grayson) says even she wondered, "Where are we going from here?" when she recently locked in a 40-year mortgage for a market-rate property at 4.15%. She says tax-exempt bonds aren't always a money saver. "Sometimes the best thing to do is suck it up" and find a way to do, say, the 20% of affordable units required for a project using the money you have, which she recently helped William C. Smith do in the District recently.
Vicki Davis and Raymond Skinner at the Four Seasons Baltimore Harbor East on Jan. 31, 2012
Urban Atlantic Development prez Vicki Davis and Maryland Sec. of Housing & Community Development Raymond Skinner. Affordable housing is a tight-knit group; Raymond says he knows at least half the people there. Of course, the other half also knows him! Vicki says the key is not overconcentrating affordable housing in huge blocks of land and cross-subsidizing tenant income levels. Some of the best affordable housing she's seen were built through the HOPE VI program, which encourages tenant self-sufficiency and mixed-income in public-housing projects.
Christine Espenshade, Jonette Hahn, and Corine Sheridan at the Four Seasons Baltimore Harbor East on Jan. 31, 2012
This is not the only photo we took of JLL's Christine Espenshade(with Reznick Group's Jonette Hahn and Boston Capital's Corine Sheridan) on Tuesday. Nine hours later and 200 miles north in New York, we were hobnobbing with Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner and others in the New York Times building at a Princeton Real Estate Network event, when in walked Christine—causing us both to do a double take and wonder whether this was reality or exhaustion. (Bruce, though not a Princeton alum, does have Harvard and Columbia Law on his resume.) Christine says JLL is expanding into affordable housing (2,200 units on the market for $350M), and private families and other institutional money are showing interest. She just has to educate them that the sector can provide heavy yields—over the long term.
Amy McClain and Andrew Vincent at the Four Seasons Baltimore Harbor East on Jan. 31, 2012
Ballard Spahr partner Amy McClain (with AHC Greater Baltimore director Andrew Vincent) says creative financing is out there. Though the New Markets Tax Credit expired at the end of the year, there's still plenty of allocation in the pipeline. And Vicki points out that there's energy financing for sustainable new builds and rehabs that can help stabilize costs. Amy adds that Power Purchase Agreements can provide enough money for renovations. And Chickie says there's also brownfield money and Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds for foreclosed properties. Andrew, like other affordable housing developers, wishes for a clearer idea of what's going to happen when he needs to recap his properties years from now. Chickie points out that this sector has a lot of 15-year loans, and when those are due, those properties will need capital.
Bill Bonstra and Margaret McFarland at the Four Seasons Baltimore Harbor East on Jan. 31, 2012
Here's Bonstra | Haresign Architects' Bill Bonstra and our moderator, University of Maryland Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development's Margaret McFarland, who described Bisnow's 18 CRE markets as chapters. We like it—and welcome you all to the Baltimore Bisnowchapter. Bill, a U of M alum, tells us he's designing a 160-unit affordable project near DC's Rhode Island Avenue Metro.
Scott Melnick and Bill Riley at the Four Seasons Baltimore Harbor East on Jan. 31, 2012
We also snapped JLL's Scott Melnick and Reznick Group's Bill Riley, who moderated our keynote conversation with Raymond. Scott tells us JLL's multifamily team closed the largest transaction in the US, the two largest in the DC metro, and the largest in each Philly and Baltimore ($190M for six properties to Harbor Group International). He also says his son Adam interned for Bisnow'sSummit Series last year, has since graduated from the University of Miami, and now works for JLL in New York.