Q&A: Enterprise Homes CEO Chickie Grayson Talks Affordable Housing, New Owings Mills Project
Enterprise Homes has developed more than 6,000 rental and for-sale affordable housing units in the last 30 years. We chatted with CEO Chickie Grayson, an employee of the Baltimore company since 1987, who is one of the speakers at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference Dec. 3 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Chickie told us about the challenges and misconceptions surrounding affordable housing and the company’s recent developments in the area. Enterprise Homes and Pax-Edwards recently completed the $17.2M Hollins Station, 48 lease-to-purchase townhomes in the Riverview neighborhood of Lansdowne. Other new developments and renovations are slated for Owings Mills and Edmondson Village.
Bisnow: How did you become interested in affordable housing?
Chickie: I love people, and being able to transform communities for people.
Bisnow: How is it different than other types of developments?
Chickie: The financing is unbelievably complicated. You might have four to five to eight sources of financing. Everyone has different requirements and there are different rules to follow.
Bisnow: Tell me about the $22.3M Mulberry at Park (shown), 68 apartments in the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District?
Chickie: It went under construction in the spring. It’s in a block that needs a significant amount of work. We’re thrilled to work in that area near the Enoch Pratt Free Library, a couple blocks from Charles Street. It will be completed summer 2016.
Bisnow: Any upcoming groundbreakings?
Chickie: We have developed the $18M Red Run Station (pictured). It’s 72 multifamily units in Owings Mills that will [break ground] in spring 2016. [Completed mid-2017]. It will be a great opportunity. It’s in an area that can really use some workforce housing—with T. Rowe Price, [CareFirst] BlueCross BlueShield and LifeBridge Health. There are a lot of businesses around there with entry-level positions.
Bisnow: Are there any misconceptions that people have about affordable housing?
Chickie: The primary misconceptions are that it will hurt property values and bring crime. People forget where they came from. What’s the solution to this? We need a political solution to this so we don’t have so many monolithic segregated communities. The solution is simple [but hard to do], which is only to create mixed-income communities. Whatever [housing] is built has to have 10% or 15% affordable housing.
Bisnow: What other projects are you working on in Baltimore City?
Chickie: There’s a program called RAD, rental assistance demonstration. The city issued an RFP to developers interested in purchasing current public housing developments, particularly with seniors and non-elderly disabled. We just closed on the first one in Baltimore City, 164 units for seniors and non-elderly disabled. Allendale, it’s in Edmonson [Village Avenue]. We’re starting on the rehab work [for the $27M project.]
Bisnow: How has affordable housing changed over the years?
Chickie: Most affordable housing today is largely privately financed. There’s an obligation on the part of the developer to make sure that the buildings are run well and efficiently and the credits are delivered to the investor as a result. There have been few problems with buildings delivered through low-income housing tax credits. The amount of foreclosures is very small.