HRI Communities announced today that it has closed on the financing to renovate the first phase of the River Garden Apartments at 913 Felicity Street in the Lower Garden District and is set to immediately move forward with construction overseen by Landis Construction Co. The $10 million renovation project will facilitate a renovation of the apartment homes, which were originally developed in 2003 by HRI as the first phase of the St. Thomas HOPE VI Redevelopment Project.
“HRI Communities was honored to develop the original River Garden apartments almost 20 years ago. It is a privilege to be able to immediately begin renovations, which include comprehensive exterior and selective interior improvements that will allow these beautiful buildings to continue to provide much needed mixed-income housing for decades to come. Current and future residents of the apartments will be excited about the improvements we have planned for their homes,” said HRI Communities President Josh Collen in a press release.
The overall River Garden mixed-use community sits on approximately 60 acres of land located in the historic Lower Garden District along the Mississippi Riverfront. Embracing “New Urbanist” concepts, the development provides apartment homes in a pedestrian friendly and historic neighborhood atmosphere. Located on land leased by the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), the property has continuously maintained high occupancy levels.
“We are very pleased to have helped in securing the needed funding that our partner, HRI, will be using to renovate the River Garden Apartments. River Gardens is a testament to HANO’s vision in providing modern, mixed-income affordable housing units in New Orleans, which we are pleased to support in serving the low-income residents of the city,” stated HANO Executive Director Evette Hester.
HRI’s plans include renovations to the buildings’ exterior facades. The to-do list includes painting all surfaces, making miscellaneous cosmetic repairs, installing all new roofs, performing sitework improvements, replacing aged HVAC condensers and making interior repairs. The plan is to do this without disrupting or relocating residents. The property includes 296 apartment homes within 111 buildings.
“Landis Construction is proud to be the contractor for this important housing community. We are committed to this project not only for the sake of the project itself, but also because it aligns with our company’s focus on supporting and enhancing our community. We look forward to improving residents’ homes and also providing new vocational opportunities to the River Garden community through employment and training,” said Landis CEO Anne Teague Landis.
HRI Communities was awarded 9% low income housing tax credits by the Louisiana Housing Corporation to fund the renovation of the property. Additional financial participants include First Horizon Community Investment Group Inc. as the Tax Credit Investor, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage LLC as the servicer for a Freddie Mac permanent loan, and the Housing Authority of New Orleans as ground lessor, original lender and operating subsidy provider. The Industrial Development Board of the City of New Orleans partnered on the original financing by structuring a property tax abatement in the form of a payment-in-lieu-of-tax, or “PILOT,” which will continue for the remainder of the original 35-year term ending in 2038.
“We are thrilled that another large-scale housing revitalization project is moving forward in the City of New Orleans,” said Joshua G. Hollins, Louisiana Housing Corporation executive director. “We know that partnerships build communities, and we are proud to once again partner with HRI on a renovation that will ensure this development remains energy efficient, safe, and vibrant for the tenants of this Lower Garden District community.”
“A pillar of First Horizon’s success is the active support of the communities where we live and operate,” said Amanda Ward, director of First Horizon Community Investment Group, the division of First Horizon Bank that makes community development investments that qualify for low-income housing tax credits, new markets tax credits and historic tax credits. “We invest in the long-term well-being of the people and communities we serve. First Horizon’s involvement in River Garden is an impactful example of our efforts to strengthen our communities through strategic partnerships and investments.”
“Freddie Mac and Berkadia are committed to the creation and preservation of affordable homes,” said Tim Leonhard, senior managing director, Berkadia Affordable Housing. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with HRI Communities and HANO on this important renovation project by providing a structured and competitive Freddie Mac loan.”