Tag Archives: friendship court redevelopment

Financing the Friendship Court Redevelopment

Friendship Court montage

Pulling together the financing for affordable rental housing in general is a deeply complex endeavor.  It is not uncommon for a high-quality, mission-focused affordable rental housing development to layer 10-15 sources of funding.  The redevelopment of Friendship Court will be no different.  In fact, it will be more complex than most, given the broad set of resident-driven goals for redevelopment, including creating housing with multiple tiers of affordability and the phasing of development that prevents displacement of existing resident families.

With few exceptions, all rental housing developments have some debt once completed.  The rental revenue from a property covers those debt payments – as well as all other necessary operating costs such as staff, utility bills, building repair reserves, etc.  By definition, affordable housing communities have reduced rental revenue. However, operating costs don’t generally shrink, so the primary method for reducing operating costs to align with the available rental revenue is to decrease the debt burden.  The only way to decrease debt is to introduce front-end subsidies into the development financing.

The backbone subsidy for affordable rental community development nation-wide is Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).  Effectively, LIHTC financing can account for as much as 40-50% of development costs.  However, LIHTC is a limited federal program, administered by individual states, and is highly competitive.

The redevelopment of Friendship Court absolutely depends on successfully winning LIHTC financing – and all the work of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee over the last year has been focused on achieving resident aspirations and winning LIHTC funding.  However, LIHTC alone is insufficient to “make the numbers work” given the depth of affordability we aim to achieve – we will need those other layered sources, too.

For two reasons, the second most crucial subsidy is local.  First, local financial support provides a meaningful layer of funding.  Second, and perhaps as importantly, we are much more competitive in the LIHTC financing competition with substantial, committed financial support from the municipality.  Fortunately, we live in a city with a strong financial commitment to affordable housing as shown by the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund (CAHF). The CAHF was wisely established more than ten years ago to support affordable housing in our community.

To successfully redevelop Friendship Court, we must close the remaining development financing gap depending largely on support from local, regional, and national foundations as well as private philanthropy.

Successfully financing a high-quality, deeply affordable rental housing community is challenging and resource-intensive. The decisively positive results, however, particularly for the families whose lives will be impacted over the ensuing decades, are unequivocal and critically necessary to address the dire need for housing affordable for low-income families in Charlottesville.

Phased Redevelopment: Our Plan for Zero Displacement of Residents

From the outset of the planning process more than two years ago, one of the first clear decisions was establishing an absolute commitment to zero displacement of Friendship Court families through the redevelopment process. This assurance is made possible by using a strategy of phased development.

The existing open space bordering 6th Street SE at the eastern edge of the site provides a remarkable opportunity to build first before anyone moves. Phase 1 of the redevelopment will be built only on the existing open space to make this strategy feasible.

Phases image amendedOnce Phase 1 construction is complete, approximately 100-110 beautiful new homes will have been built. 40 families from Friendship Court will move into their new homes alongside new additional affordable and market rate apartments. Each phase of development will be integrated with mixed income households.

Phase 2 construction will commence soon after the first 40 Friendship Court families have moved in. The 40 existing apartments they will have just vacated will then be torn down and replaced with a new batch of beautiful homes. This sequence of building first and then moving in will continue until everyone is re-housed through all phases, thereby maintaining zero displacement through the entire process.

The preliminary master plan released in 2016, envisioned seven phases of redevelopment, equating to a lengthy twelve year construction period, or perhaps even longer. One of the most significant concerns we heard from residents at Friendship Court after it was released was that this plan would take too long. In partnership with the Advisory Committee, we refined the plan, reducing the redevelopment to four phases. Four phases was the least number of phases we could devise while also maintaining quality of life through construction and other priorities expressed by Friendship Community community. The revised plan aims to have all Friendship Court families in their new homes within seven years.

The next step in the process is that the City needs to review the overall redevelopment plan to be sure the proposed plan will meet required City codes and necessary infrastructure, such as roads, parking, emergency vehicle access, etc.  On June 13, we submitted this overall Preliminary Site Plan to the City for their review. When the review is completed, we will submit a detailed Phase 1 site plan (hopefully in late summer or early fall of 2018) to obtain the necessary Building Permits for construction.

With permits in hand and financing secured, construction is planned to begin around the beginning of 2020. Phase 1 construction will be completed, with families ideally moving in, towards the end of 2021. Through this process, like every development, we will face some factors that are partially outside our control. Examples include permit and entitlement approval, federal interest rate hikes and impact on financing, etc. As we have been so far, we will continue to do everything we can to mitigate for these factors and are deeply committed to maintaining this timeline.

The advantages of a phased development process to the Friendship Court community are immense. Given the painful legacy of urban renewal and institutionalized racism in our community and across the country, the opportunity to redevelop with zero displacement of community residents is both rare and exceptionally powerful.

The Spring 2018 Update on the Friendship Court Redevelopment

For the last 40 years, Friendship Court has been a place to call home for hundreds of families. For some, the community has been a vital stepping stone, a refuge during times of financial crisis or the first step towards self-determination. For others, especially families or individuals who depend on small, fixed incomes such as disability or social security, Friendship Court has been, and will likely continue to be, a lasting home. At the same time, some families who arrive at Friendship Court hoping for stability become entangled in the veiled web of systemic hurdles that make it so difficult for anyone to fracture generational cycles of poverty.

Nevertheless, for all the families who have called the community home over the last four decades, and for the rest of us who recognize the necessity of supporting our neighbors and families during periods of vulnerability, Friendship Court has provided critical civic infrastructure that benefits all of us – the entire community of Charlottesville.

So why are we redeveloping Friendship Court? We are doing so because it is time. It’s time to replace the 40-year old buildings that are approaching the end of their useful life. It’s time to rewrite the stigma of economic and social isolation. It’s time to engage the residents with earnest transparency and committed partnership. Though redevelopment alone can’t redress the full history of structural racism and other systemized inequities, the work of redevelopment will continue to be fundamentally rooted in bending the arc of the future.

Courtyard conversationsOver the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more details of the work we’ve accomplished so far in partnership with the residents. The focus of our work over recent months has been taking the early master plan that was released in late 2016 and listening to the community, collecting the emerging comments and concerns. In partnership with an amazing design team, inclusive of residents and community advocates on the Advisory Committee (who we’ll share more about in a future post), we have been hard at work refining the plan to address critical issues.

How many new apartments should be built? What types of housing will be built? Where will the open and green spaces be located and what character will they take? What will the income mix of future residents be? How does a new, reconnected neighborhood get built while also retaining the existent sense of culture and place? How will the redevelopment balance zero displacement while minimizing the overall timeline? How do we maintain a positive quality of life during each phase of construction?

As we begin to unveil this resident-led work, you will see a site framework that reconciles these difficult questions remarkably well. While we know a great deal of complex work and difficult decisions remain in front of us, we have built a thoughtful foundation that will lead us all, the entire community of Charlottesville, towards a more equitable and accountable future.

Visit www.friendshipcourtapartments.com to learn more and follow the community’s progress by subscribing to e-news updates.

 

Master Plan Digest: On the Ground — The Physical Site Context of Friendship Court

 

While drafting the Master Plan, our design team identified several ways that the physical site of Friendship Court will impact redevelopment plans.

Elevation changes

The elevation of the Friendship Court site changes by as much as 35 feet from 2nd Street to 6th Street. In some instances, this elevation change may benefit the redevelopment by making it easier to building parking underneath buildings. However, it also creates challenges in how the new buildings can relate to the street level.

Regulatory Structure

Zoning allows for residential development up to 50’ high by right, higher than the current Friendship Court structures. Additional height would be allowed for buildings that have a mix of uses (for example, stores on the ground floor and apartments above). Current zoning would allow up to 505 units of housing on the property. The Strategic Investment Area plan recommends allowing higher density on the site, and the City is reviewing recommended changes in zoning.

Parking regulations

Parking requirements call for as many as 1.7 parking spots for each unit of housing. That level exceeds both current and projected future needs, and it would require additional surface parking that would force us to reduce the redeveloped site’s green space.

No Displacement

Our core commitment to no displacement of current residents, even during construction, creates a unique physical constraint by requiring that the first phase of development occur within the green space along 6th Street. In addition, other plan features—more bedrooms in the new units and the need to build around current units—have a strong impact on where and when each phase of development will occur.

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll see what needs to change – and what will stay the same – in the water infrastructure on site.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – What We Heard and What That Tells Us (Site Context)

Friendship Court Community Dinner Meeting Features Opportunities to Discuss Community’s Future

PHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017Friendship Court residents gathered on February 16th at the community center to learn and share ideas about the future redevelopment over dinner with neighbors. Residents engaged with Piedmont Housing Alliance staff and the Grimm and Parker architectural team working on Phase 1 of the redevelopment.  Residents interacted with photos of other housing communities and answered the questions: What are your favorite things about Friendship Court? What do you want us to know about your community? Residents also talked with and gave feedback to other community partners related to City street planning and Charlottesville City Schools. A delicious dinner was provided by Afghan Kabob and Wayside Chicken. Kids got to indulge in fun photo booth activities during the night. Residents are encouraged to talk with Community Organizer Claudette Grant at the community center and to join us for quarterly community dinner meetings scheduled for May 11th, August 17th and November 16th.

PHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017 2
The Friendship Court Advisory Committee continues to meet monthly. Their February meeting will include a kick-off meeting with members of recently-formed work groups focused on creating an Early Childhood Education Center and a Workforce Development Program. The Advisory Committee will also discuss ongoing resident engagement to inform physical and programmatic aspects of the redevelopment.

PHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017 photo boothPHA Friendship Court Community Dinner Feb 16 2017 3

Master Plan Digest: Key Concepts of the Master Plan Proposal

The master plan grew out of what we heard and learned, combined with the financial constraints of the project. Below are some of the key drivers that shaped the plan.

  • No displacement of current residents means a longer development timeline and the relocation of certain amenities.
  • Providing a mixed-income environment with greater opportunities and amenities is only possible with greater density.
  • To pursue an integrated approach to development, distribute affordable units evenly across the site and throughout the buildings.
  • Locating parking below buildings creates more open space and associated amenities.
  • Relief on certain zoning requirements such as height or parking make it possible to create more housing on the site.

What we heard: The fence makes Friendship Court feel like an isolated prison.
What we propose: Remove the fence and create neighborhood blocks by extending streets into and through the site.

What we heard: Stormwater management is a critical need on the site. Existing green space is prone to flooding and underutilized.
What we propose: Bioswales and regrading can reduce the stormwater issue while providing more green space.

What we found out: Belmont is made of primarily single family homes.
What we propose: Adjust building heights to be more sensitive to the scale of Belmont.

What we found out: Second Street will be an important connector between the Mall and a redeveloped IX site.
What we propose: Ground-floor retail and community-serving amenities along 2nd St. and Hinton Ave.

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

Next week on the blog, we’ll explore issues that shaped the proposed site plan.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Master Plan Proposal (Concept)

Master Plan Digest: Why Redevelopment is the Right Choice for Friendship Court

Friendship CourtFriendship CourtFor the 150 families who call Friendship Court home, redevelopment means opportunity and hope for a brighter future. For the larger community, it’s a chance to remake a large part of our downtown and get it right – adding affordable housing, jobs and infrastructure without displacing anyone.

Friendship Court will be 40 years old in 2018. It has never undergone a major renovation. The buildings are outdated, and the site plan isolates residents from the surrounding neighborhoods.

In 2018, Piedmont Housing Alliance will have the opportunity to redevelop the site. We aim to connect Friendship Court physically, economically and socially to the rest of Charlottesville.

Our goals for the new Friendship Court include mixed-income housing in a mixed-use community, with 150 units of Section 8-assisted housing, additional affordable and workforce housing, and a large complement of market-rate housing.

Our first commitment is to the current residents – to redevelop the site without displacing anyone. We’ve crafted a plan to redevelop in phases, keeping resident families on site throughout.

The Friendship Court Advisory Committee, including residents elected by their neighbors, has been essential to the creation of the master plan, advising our design team and carrying ideas both to and from the community.

What are the redevelopment goals?

1. Friendship Court Improves Quality of Life and Fosters Access to Opportunity for All of its Residents.

Mixed-income housing allows movement within the site for residents as family or financial situations change. Partners come together on the site to provide economic benefits, retail opportunities and the possibility for wealth creation.

2. Friendship Court is Physically and Socially Connected and Integrated Across the Site and to the Surrounding Area.

All 150 Section 8 units are integrated in a diverse manner across the entire site. A network of new walkable streets, pedestrian ways, and green spaces invite on-site residents of all incomes and residents of surrounding neighborhoods to interact. The site should respect and enhance the surrounding neighborhood, in harmony with the City of Charlottesville’s goals as embodied in the Strategic Investment Area (SIA) Plan. Programming connects Friendship Court in multiple ways to the community.

3. Friendship Court Respects and Values the Lives of All of its Residents

Friendship Court capitalizes on the community’s strengths, promotes cultural and economic diversity, and encourages mutual respect among all residents. Ownership and management support existing residents without differentiating between new and existing residents.

4. Friendship Court is a Great Place

Friendship Court is a local and national model for equity, sustainability, and beauty – with spaces designed to invite diverse people to build and share a sense of community.

These goals were discussed, refined, and approved by the Friendship Court Advisory Committee in February 2016.

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

Next week on the blog, we’ll explore the question: “What is a master plan?”
Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Executive Summary (Introduction)

Master Plan Digest: What is Friendship Court


Just a few blocks from Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall sits an affordable housing development that is home to 150 families.

More than 250 children live at Friendship Court. While over half the residents have jobs, average household income is only about $11,000 a year. Each household receives Section 8 rental assistance.

Two not-for-profit organizations, Piedmont Housing Alliance and National Housing Trust, purchased the 11.75-acre Friendship Court property in 2002, in order to preserve affordable housing on the site.

In 2018, Piedmont Housing Alliance will have an opportunity to transform Friendship Court into a mixed-income, mixed-use community that is welcoming to all. Current residents will continue to live at Friendship Court during and after redevelopment.

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

Next week on the blog, we’ll explore the question: “Why redevelopment?”

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Executive Summary (Introduction)

Video

Watch: Our Video about the Redevelopment of Friendship Court

Beth Kennan Helps Lead Friendship Court to Next Stage of the Redevelopment

PHA Beth Kennan Project Manager Friendship Court

Beth Kennan, a Charlottesville native, is Piedmont Housing Alliance’s project manager for the redevelopment of Friendship Court. Beth comes to Piedmont Housing Alliance with over 10 years of real estate project development and construction management experience. She earned a Masters of Professional Studies in Real Estate from Georgetown University and has overseen projects totaling more than 920,000 square feet. Beth plays a central role in moving the redevelopment plan forward, working with residents, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee, community stakeholders, engineers, and architects.

Beth’s current focus is on the important predevelopment work (civil engineering, legal, and preliminary architectural work) necessary to gain site plan approval for the first phase of redevelopment, which is funded by a substantial grant from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

PHA Friendship Court redevelopment rendering

One of the exciting features of the redevelopment plan incorporates an early education center at Friendship Court. In September, Beth organized a tour for of two innovative early childhood centers in Virginia, The New E3 School in Norfolk and the Weinstein JCC School in Richmond. This gave members of the board, the advisory committee, and other community partners an opportunity to experience and learn about other successful centers in the region. Another tour of early childhood centers in southwest Virginia is being planned for January.

Beth is a member of the Urban Land Institute and is keenly interested in the redevelopment and the positive effects she believes it will bring to the urban landscape in Charlottesville’s downtown. She continues to stay involved with other community organizations. When asked about the project, she said, “Most importantly, you have to work as team in any community partnership and value everyone’s opinion. No one is better than anyone else. Everyone has something to bring to the table and you have to value that.”

The master plan is complete and will be available to the public in January.