Behind the Deal: Landis Square Senior Apartments

With developers reluctant to approach affordable residential developments, Landis Square Senior Apartments proves that an eight-year-long story can have a successful ending.
Landis Square Senior Apartments

Landis Square Senior Apartments

Vineland, N.J.—Eastern Pacific Development LLC announced that it started construction on Landis Square Senior Apartments, a three-story structure at the corners of East and Landis avenues in Vineland. The community will offer 71 affordable housing rental units, including ten for seniors with special needs in addition to 10,000 square feet of retail space. The project is scheduled for completion in November.

The Vineland-based company and developer of the project secured $17.8 million in financing for the construction. The amount includes capital contributions from investors for the purchase of federal low-income housing tax credits awarded by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency through a competitive process. “It took six separate applications to the State of New Jersey to obtain the tax credit allocation, so yes it was (difficult),” Hans Lampart, founder & CEO of Eastern Pacific Development, told Multi-Housing News. First Sterling Financial Inc. and J.P. Morgan ensured $14.9 million for buying the low-income tax credits.

Jeffrey Beenstock of Ballard Spahr’s New Jersey office represented Eastern Pacific Development in closing the financing and also the acquisition of the land, a process that started more than eight years ago. “This project took over eight years to get to construction commencement due primarily to issues with acquiring the land on which it was constructed. The property is in a redevelopment area, which allows municipalities to acquire land that is deemed blighted. The property owners objected to having their properties acquired and litigation between the City and the property owners ensued,” Beenstock told MHN. Eventually, most of the actions were settled.

Hans Lampert, founder & CEO of Eastern Pacific Development

Hans Lampert, founder & CEO of Eastern Pacific Development

Beenstock, who is also experienced when it comes to financing affordable housing projects, admits that the process can be frustrating. “The LIHTC is competitive because there is only a limited amount awarded…Affordable housing developers need to satisfy many different criteria and obtain many different approvals for the project and commitments for other financing sources. Doing so requires a tremendous amount of time, effort and attention to detail,” he added. Since there is only one round of LIHTC applications per year, it can take several years until a projects receives a tax credit award. This is the main reason why developers are reluctant to embark on such projects. “There is a significant need for affordable housing, but limited availability of funding,” Lampart said.

Landis Square Senior Apartments will offer one- and two-bedroom units for people 55 and older, including the ones set aside for tenants with developmental disabilities. Gateway Community Action Partnership, a social service provider for individuals with special needs, teamed up with Eastern Pacific for this community. Rents will range from $124 to $680 per month.

The structure is being built on the southeast corner of the East and Landis intersection and is part of Landis Square East, a larger effort to redevelop the four corners of the junction. The City of Vineland designated the Eastern Pacific Development as the main developer for the overall effort, which also involves demolition of a full city block containing a dilapidated motel and other structures.

The first stage of Landis Square East, the restoration of the historic, 800-seat Landis Theater on the intersection’s northwest corner into a community performing arts showplace, was completed.

Images courtesy of J. W. Pedersen, Eastern Pacific Development