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Falcone Group Hires HUD Executive To Lead New Affordable Housing Arm

Prominent South Florida developer Art Falcone is launching a new affordable and workforce housing arm at his company, Falcone Group, and he has tapped the former deputy chief of staff for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to lead the division.

HUD's Alfonso Costa and National Multifamily Housing Council's Doug Bibby at a 2019 Bisnow event.

Alfonso Costa Jr. will serve as executive vice president in the division of Falcone Residential focused on affordable and workforce housing. He will also lead the firm’s opportunity zones strategy.

In his HUD role, Costa was responsible for counseling Carson and overseeing policy for the department, which has a $52B annual budget and some 7,000 employees in 65 offices across the country. He dealt with everything from HUD’s multifamily mortgage insurance programs to the agency’s coronavirus response, and directed actions taken through the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, according to a statement announcing his hire.

Costa also served on the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, also known as the Opportunity Zones Council, and was ranked No. 10 in the Opportunity Zone Magazine’s “Top 25 Opportunity Zone Influencers of 2020” list. Costa has bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale and Oxford, respectively, and a law degree from Harvard.

When he was 22 years old, Falcone became the youngest McDonald's franchisee in the country. Decades later, he's co-developing the $3B Miami Worldcenter mixed-use project. In between, the Boca Raton-based developer has done commercial, retail, hotel and residential projects.

“Alfonso’s wealth of knowledge and experience in affordable housing and Opportunity Zones is second to none," Falcone said in a statement. "As we continue to commit more of our firm’s time, energy and resources into workforce and affordable housing, we are confident that there is no one more primed for this position than Alfonso.”

In spite of his credentials, Costa's 2018 hiring at HUD was criticized, because his father is a Pennsylvania-based dentist-turned-real estate-investor who was one of Carson's best friends and former partner in real estate deals. When the elder Costa was convicted for healthcare fraud in 2015, Carson wrote a letter supporting him at his sentencing, CNN reported.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to work with someone as respected and accomplished as Art Falcone, whom I know to be a true icon in the real estate industry, especially considering his humble beginnings," Costa said. "My admiration for Art and his team's work ethic is what led me to the Falcone Group, and I look forward to helping them address the country’s undersupply of housing and underinvestment in historically neglected Opportunity Zones."

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill June 9 that authorizes local governments to approve development of affordable housing on any land zoned for residential, commercial or industrial use, the Jacksonville Daily Record reported.

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