An urban property with the address of 300 East Rich St. in downtown Columbus, Nazareth Towers is subsidized under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 program. The 14-story structure was originally erected in 1968, and the decades had been unkind. But Inner City Catholic came to the rescue, working with a series of partners to facilitate the renaissance of the low-income housing community and raise it to acceptable standards. “The building had not undergone significant rehabilitation in all those years, so there was an opportunity to bring the property up to speed,” Joseph P. Molnar, Managing Director with Huntington National Bank, tells MHN. Huntington National Bank, acting through its Huntington Community Development Corporation division, assisted with financing Nazareth Towers’ renovation by providing a side-by-side investment in excess of $4.5 million.
Along with the bank, the list of partners that contributed to the project’s funding includes the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which awarded 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, which syndicated the LIHTCs, invested over $9 million. Additionally, the City of Columbus, the Columbus/Franklin County Affordable Housing Trust Fund and HUD participated in the financing. The East Columbus Development Company and Community Health Center Foundation also gave a hand with redevelopment.
The studio, one- and two-bedroom residences at Nazareth Towers were given new life with the addition of such amenities as new carpet and air conditioning units. The project also included a structural upgrade that yielded an additional elevator. “We provided a larger car for emergency personnel to reach tenants and to accommodate additional traffic,” Molnar notes. “We’ve added a lot of features that everyone takes for granted.”
Affordable housing projects, as has been the case with all other commercial real estate sectors, incurred the wrath of the credit crunch; increasing demand for these properties provided no advantage. However, the commitment of some financial institutions has been unwavering. “Huntington CDC has been investing in affordable housing for years and we have continued to invest even when there has been dislocation in the market,” Molnar says. “It is important to communities and neighborhoods to support safe, quality affordable housing.” Through Huntington’s CDC, Huntington National Bank has made millions of dollars available for affordable housing endeavors in various states, including a $100 million commitment to Ohio that was announced in July.