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Thread: Non-profit real estate developer

  1. #1
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    Non-profit real estate developer

    Can anyone give me some examples of Non-Profit Organizations whose primary mission is real estate development in urban areas. I'm looking for a model for a NP Developer who focuses on mixed-use and neighborhood center-type developments. I know there are a lot of affordable housing NPs out there, but that is not what I'm looking for (not that affordable housing can be a part of it.) This can be anywhere in the United States - though upstate NY would be especially applicable.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian grapesfarmer's avatar
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    NP real estate developer

    (no offence meant)

    Isn't that an oxymoron

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by grapesfarmer View post
    (no offence meant)

    Isn't that an oxymoron
    No, it is not.

    A nonprofit developer may take a developer's fee following completion of the development and use that to help bankroll their operations, but that's not the same thing as a profit.

    OP - I've been in the planning and community development world for a while and have yet to see a nonprofit developer whose focus is not primarily on housing. Nonprofit are mission-driven organizations by their very nature, and that mission usually involves helping underserved populations, and when development comes into play, it is focused on housing. They may partner with a larger private sector developer for the type of project you propose, but I've never seen a case in which they would be lead developer. The private sector heavies like Avalon, Related, etc. bring in resources and access to financing at a level that nonprofits cannot match.

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    In DC there were a few redevelopment authorities whose mission was to redevelop a targeted area for both housing and economic development purposes. Some of them had management issues and got folded into the deptuy mayor's office for planning and economic development ie The Anacostia Waterfront Corporation.

    The New Orleans Redevelopment Authoirty also comes to mind as a np that redevelops both commercial and residential land. I am not sure if the authority is a political subdivision or is a true non profit real estate development group.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Generally, I think you might want to look for Community Development Corporations and Community Housing Development Corporations as defined by HUD. I think CDCs in particular are most likely to be along the lines of what you describe.

    The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority might be an example of what you are looking for, and I think they are an independent organization.Perhaps someone from NOLa can chime in, but I believe they work heavily in commercial, mixed use and residential redevelopment and act as developer.

    I also think the Austin Revitalization Authority might be what you are looking for. They were initially started with public funds, but I believe are now privately funded. They probably aren't the best example (in fact, they are a bit of a hot mess), as they've had financial issues, struggled to fund additional phases of development and have struggled to achieve performance measures (although they were victims of poor timing with the economy), but it is at least something close to what you are looking for. Even then, they are not a true "developer" like you seem to be seeking. There are a number of for-profit socially-aware developers out there that partner with organizations like this on projects, particularly "pioneering commercial," but I don't know of any that are purely non-profit. Non-profit development seems like it would be exceptionally difficult, as private funding sources & foundation funding are not always predictable, fundraising takes longer, etc. As such, a non-profit developer would by its nature be slower-moving as far as level of activity compared to a for-profit, but would still need to carry similar overhead.

    Conceptually, I could see something like what MacheteJames said being feasible by basing it on developer fees being rolled into the next project rather than the profit going to investors, but I've never seen such an arrangement for a primarily commercial project. Commercial projects are even more difficult because of the restricted development finance market and the lack of private foundations that have funds available for commercial projects in underserved areas. In contrast, there are a number that focus on affordable housing. Doesn't mean it can't be done or doesn't exist; I just haven't personally seen it.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    No, it is not.

    A nonprofit developer may take a developer's fee following completion of the development and use that to help bankroll their operations, but that's not the same thing as a profit.
    Exactly! Contrary to popular belief, not all developers are evil. Non-profit developers are common and can be excellent community development partners. Independent subsidiaries of the housing authorities, urban redevelopment authorities and community land trusts also take on a non-profit development role. Although, I'm unaware of any non-profit developers that do non-residential developments.

    This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but I believe this mixed-use development in Pittsburgh is sponsored by a non-profit arm of the city that has partnered with a for-profit developer to carry out the actual construction.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburg....html?page=all
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Rosedale/Grandmont might fill the bill: http://www.grandmontrosedale.com/hom...tourhomes.html
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Quote Originally posted by Planimal17 View post
    Can anyone give me some examples of Non-Profit Organizations whose primary mission is real estate development in urban areas. I'm looking for a model for a NP Developer who focuses on mixed-use and neighborhood center-type developments. I know there are a lot of affordable housing NPs out there, but that is not what I'm looking for (not that affordable housing can be a part of it.) This can be anywhere in the United States - though upstate NY would be especially applicable.

    Thank you!
    As a previous poster mentioned, many mixed-use mixed-income developments are undertaken by local CDC's. Big name examples of these would be Mercy Housing and The Community Builders. I'm pretty sure TCB works in upstate NY. Those are the two non-profit developers that come to mind, though I'm certain many more exist. I'm more familiar with MA non-profits and development agencies, but if the equivalent of Mass Housing Finance Agency exists, I would look around the website and I'm certain you'll come across additional developers' names.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I work for a non-profit CDC and my development is mostly residential with an occasional commercial building thrown in. Many of our partner CDCs also focus on housing although there are some that have done a mixed use project. Frankly, the subsidy is in housing which is why it's most often built by non-profits and CDCs and pretty much always included in a mixed use development. Often times it comes down to ability to raise capital and for large undertakings that's difficult for many non-profits to obtain at good terms.

    A lot of the type of work that the OP described is being undertaken by for profit developers in this area and a number of them do good work. As an example, RPM Development comes to mind as they are doing a TOD project in Orange, NJ. Many municipalities have their own redevelopment arm (like New Brunswick, NJ has DEVCO) that undertake a variety of work.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I work within the Community Land Trust model and you can visit the national network's site to get more of an idea of what that entails and link to specific organizations.

    Not all CLTs operate as new construction developers (many do acquisition/rehab), but we do. All our construction is new as we develop a former brownfield site in the urban core. Our primary emphasis is homeownership, but we also have three multi-family developments. As MacheteJames noted, we receive developer's fees for these properties and in exchange we have an obligation to keep them affordable for low to moderate income folks (generally earning 80 percent of AMI and below). Our income is more complex and layered than just this, but developers fees are the cornerstone of most NP developers' income.

    So, we are a non-profit affordable housing developer. If you are not developing affordable housing, I am not sure why one would organize as a non-profit. And by affordable housing, I mean both single family and multi-family development.

    You might also look into the status of what HUD calls CHDOs - Community Housing Development Organizations - all non-profits.
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    Working on one myself

    There are several thriving nonprofit developers with projects across the eastern half of the country including upstate NY. I worked with one very successful outfit that I am in the early stages of trying to emulate. would like to know more about what you are thinking.

  12. #12
    Non-profit housing developers build affordable housing for individuals under-served by the private market. The non-profit housing sector is composed of community development corporations (CDC) and national and regional non-profit housing organizations whose mission is to provide for the needy, the elderly, working households, and others that the private housing market does not adequately serve. Of the total 4.6 million units in the social housing sector, non-profit developers have produced approximately 1.547 million units, or roughly one-third of the total stock. Since non-profit developers seldom have the financial resources or access to capital that for-profit entities do, they often use multiple layers of financing, usually from a variety of sources for both development and operation of these affordable housing units.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Habitat for Humanity is not only a housing rehab group but has dabbled in small scale real estate development. I don't have any examples on me now but you might be able to google some.
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sudip.pradhan View post
    Non-profit housing developers build affordable housing for individuals under-served by the private market. The non-profit housing sector is composed of community development corporations (CDC) and national and regional non-profit housing organizations whose mission is to provide for the needy, the elderly, working households, and others that the private housing market does not adequately serve. Of the total 4.6 million units in the social housing sector, non-profit developers have produced approximately 1.547 million units, or roughly one-third of the total stock. Since non-profit developers seldom have the financial resources or access to capital that for-profit entities do, they often use multiple layers of financing, usually from a variety of sources for both development and operation of these affordable housing units.
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  15. #15

    Non-housing Nonprofit Developers

    This thread is a bit old, but I just ran across it. It is indeed difficult to find a nonprofit real estate developer that doesn't focus on housing. I do that here in Detroit and it is a major challenge. If anyone is still interested in talking about this, let me know.

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    Pleas would like to see some property examples/outcomes

    I'd be interested in hearing more bout this especially in Detroit since it is something that I am very interested in pursuing as well. I am thinking about either a single building mixed use with apartments on top of retail, preferably a historic building to benefit from potential tax credits for rehab or ~4-5 single family homes converted to apartments. I also read about tax credits for low income housing in areas with a high walkscore/walkshed...

  17. #17
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Vanilla Suburbs View post
    I'd be interested in hearing more bout this especially in Detroit since it is something that I am very interested in pursuing as well. I am thinking about either a single building mixed use with apartments on top of retail, preferably a historic building to benefit from potential tax credits for rehab or ~4-5 single family homes converted to apartments. I also read about tax credits for low income housing in areas with a high walkscore/walkshed...
    Detroit never had many of these. A few along the main corridors, but most are gone. Detroit is predominantly single family homes with an occasional duplex or flat. The walkscore for most of the City is pretty dismal as well. There are sidewalks everywhere, but few places other than homes to walk to. The walk score does not factor in walking a couple of blocks to check on grandma.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  18. #18
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Vanilla Suburbs View post
    I'd be interested in hearing more bout this especially in Detroit since it is something that I am very interested in pursuing as well. I am thinking about either a single building mixed use with apartments on top of retail, preferably a historic building to benefit from potential tax credits for rehab or ~4-5 single family homes converted to apartments. I also read about tax credits for low income housing in areas with a high walkscore/walkshed...
    Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) are not specifically linked to walkscores, but walkability can enhance a project's overall score when applying for credits. There are many many categories that factor into the overall scoring however (rehab v. new construction, market demand, proximity to transit and job centers, environmentally friendly design, etc.) LIHTC projects are funded by each state which receives an allocation of credits based on population. Each state then has an entity that reviews applications, dispenses credits and monitors projects for ongoing compliance. Its an immensely complex process and LIHTC awards are not adequate to fund any given project alone, so additional financing is also required. The key with these projects is that the organization undertaking it must have strong capacity to manage it (or oversee professional management companies that are hired for the day-to-day operations) and be able to last at least through the required affordability period. For the LIHTC monies, this is 15 years, but other funders might extend that out even further (as our local municipal funding does).

    We are a non-profit developer that has built three multi-family projects using LIHTC with a fourth just awarded. Currently we are assembling financing which includes the credits, some city money, bank loans (for construction and permanent) and special loan products through the state entity that dispenses the credits. Again, its all extremely complex. Even more mind-boggling are the New Markets Tax Credits which allow for more dynamic projects to combine residential and commercial leasing. Fewer of these have been undertaken simply because they are so complex.

    I do think linking historic credits with LIHTC if possible is a great strategy that may reduce debt coverage needed to complete the project. And when you sell any tax credits, you will do better if you get a direct buyer as opposed to a syndicated buyer(s). Combining historic and LIHTC would be more attractive for direct buyers. Essentially you get awarded a dollar amount and then you shop those credits around. Potential buyers then offer you $x for every $y you have in credits. Right now in my market, buyers are paying as high as $0.95 to $0.97 but I have seen it down in the $0.80's as well. We are waiting on some offers right now.

    Another place to look for developers working in this arena is the New Partners for Smart Growth which promote Transit Oriented Development projects, Affordable housing projects, and more in integrated contexts where they are mutually supportive. Many of the developers involved in these projects are non-profits who often work together with municipalities to get projects done. I went to their conference year before last and it was excellent. There was a lot more talk about equity and creating environments that help lift everybody than I expected. Smart Growth is a product of the EPA, so there is some federal might there as well.
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