First Green Affordable Townhomes in Marrero, La. Add to GO Zone Housing Supply

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By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorMarrero, La.—Providence Community Housing, CLB Porter LLC and Enterprise Community Investment recently celebrated the grand opening of St. Bakhita Apartments, a 100-unit green affordable rental property and a first of its kind in Jefferson Parish. Providence Community Housing, a non-profit affordable housing developer founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and […]

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorMarrero, La.—Providence Community Housing, CLB Porter LLC and Enterprise Community Investment recently celebrated the grand opening of St. Bakhita Apartments, a 100-unit green affordable rental property and a first of its kind in Jefferson Parish. Providence Community Housing, a non-profit affordable housing developer founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and CLB Porter LLC, a New Orleans-based real estate development and financial advisory firm, developed the community, which also encompasses a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse.Financing for the $21.7 million development includes over $17 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity, a $3 million mortgage from Enterprise and a $12.5 million construction loan from Regions Bank. The community also received a $50,000 grant from Enterprise’s Green Communities program.St. Bakhita is the newest community in the partnership between Providence and Enterprise, which has pledged to renovate 7,000 homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. To date, Providence has developed and/or rebuilt more than 1,000 units of affordable housing in the Greater New Orleans Area, and Enterprise has invested $80 million in tax credit equity with GO Zone (Gulf Opportunity Zone) credits. Though the partnership, Enterprise has “committed to a pipeline of five HUD Section 202 rehabs, which we have closed on and are just now completing,” notes Aron Weisner, director of syndication at Enterprise Community Investment Inc.Green features at St. Bakhita include passive solar heating; Energy Star appliances and fixtures; Green-seal certified carpet; a high-efficiency HVAC system, low-e windows; low- or no-VOC paints, sealants and adhesives; and a walkable site layout—located close to public transportation and easily accessible to jobs, retail, schools, and churches—that features shared green spaces landscaped with local plants. Additionally, Hike for KaTreena, a New Orleans-based organization dedicated to replenishing trees destroyed due to the hurricanes, donated 50 Crepe Myrtles trees to the site.In addition, the community’s clubhouse, which is located in the center of the site, offers a resource center with information for residents on how to maximize the benefits of the green features.“This has traditionally been an under-served affordable housing market, and there was a need to bring housing up to more modern standards,” notes Weisner, who tells MHN that Enterprise is working to “redevelop housing with services in strong recovering markets in a sustainable fashion” as well as working with the state to incorporate the company’s Green Communities criteria.“Especially with operating costs and sustainability issues due to the climate and the unpredictability of the market, it’s a perfect environment to try to implement Green Communities standards,” Weisner adds. “I think there’s a significant interest post-Katrina to rethinking how the city is built. There’s a significant need, and with limited resources, it’s a difficult market to build green, since the demand to get housing online” is so great.The community, which is 100 percent leased and occupied, offers post-Katrina housing opportunities and affordable rental options for those earning 60 percent or less of the area median income (AMI).Despite the economic downfall, the community was completed in one year, due to restrictions in GO Zone legislation, explains Weisner, adding, “In some ways, the local economy helped because there were few construction starts because of the broader economic issues. We had a general contractor that was highly motivated to get it done on time and on budget.”Designed by St. Martin Brown and Associates, St. Bakhita offers two-, three- and four-bedroom units, ranging from 1,075 to 1,420 square feet and clustered into groups of five attached townhomes. Each home includes front and rear porches.“The townhouse design is different from the traditional shotgun style—it’s built with front terraces, a front and back façade that matched the surrounding environment,” Weisner notes. “Neighbors and local residents were consulted on the local design, so there’s a continuity between the property and the surrounding neighborhood.”The development includes nine permanent supportive housing units, two of which are designed for residents with vision impairments.

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