WinnCompanies & Omni Development Break Ground on $42 Million Rehab at Historic Rhode Island Public Housing Community
RI Gov. Raimondo & Pawtucket Mayor Grebien Praise Project at Prospect Heights Apartments
PAWTUCKET, RI – WinnCompanies, an award-winning multifamily property developer and manager, and Omni Development Corporation, the largest minority not-for-profit housing developer in Rhode Island, today formally kicked off $42 million in ambitious renovations to modernize Prospect Heights Apartments, a historic New Deal-era public housing community in Pawtucket.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien, Pawtucket Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Vadnais and Executive Director of RIHousing Barbara Fields were among the dignitaries who attended the groundbreaking ceremony to kick-off the work, which will rehabilitate 292 apartments spread across 35 two-story buildings and also create 20 new units of housing at the 21-acre site.
“This redevelopment is creating a new future for the residents of this New Deal-era property,” said WinnDevelopment President and Managing Partner Larry Curtis. “We’re pleased to partner once again with Omni Development and so many local and state agencies to ensure that the affordable housing at Prospect Heights serves the community for generations to come.”
“All Rhode Islanders deserve to live somewhere that’s safe and warm,” said Governor Raimondo. “This redevelopment is a perfect example of what government and the private sector can achieve when we work together. This is a great day for Rhode Island, the City of Pawtucket and most importantly, the people who will soon call these apartments home.”
Constructed in 1942, Prospect Heights is one of the nation’s public housing projects to qualify for Federal Historic Tax Credits after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in December 2016.
A joint venture between WinnDevelopment and Omni Development acquired a ground lease for the Prospect Heights property from the Pawtucket Housing Authority in June 2017. The transaction was coordinated under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program, which allows public housing agencies to leverage their assets to raise necessary funds to do rehabilitation and capital improvements.
RIHousing provided tax-exempt bond financing for the construction and permanent loans, the Low Income Housing Tax Credits and separate bridge financing for the project. WNC, of Irvine, CA, served as the equity investor, providing Federal Historic Tax Credit and Low Income Housing Tax Credit proceeds. Commerce Corporation provided tax credits from the state’s new Rebuild Rhode Island program. Additional soft funds were provided by the federal Home Loan Bank of Boston from the Affordable Housing Program, the Rhode Island Housing Trust Fund, and the Building Homes Rhode Island Program. Housing Ministries of New England and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) provided predevelopment funds.
The City of Pawtucket supported the project through zoning and entitlement changes, as well as a tax stabilization agreement and Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds.
“This is a great day in our city that has been a long time in the making,” said Mayor Grebien. “The renovation of Prospect Heights and preservation of affordable housing marks another milestone in the revitalization of our community. I want to extent my sincere gratitude to the Governor and her leadership team, Rhode Island and Pawtucket Housing, and our private partners WinnCompanies and Omni Development Corporation for coming together to make this possible.”
All apartments at Prospect Heights will receive new kitchens and bathrooms with Energy Star-rated appliances and fixtures, new flooring and windows, and new boilers and roofs. A modern security system will be installed, and patio areas and landscaping will be renovated. An updated community room and laundry room, a new playground, and parking lot improvement also will be delivered.
In addition, two new townhouse-style buildings will be built, adding 20 new Low-Income Housing Tax Credit units for those earning at or below 60 percent of Area Median Income.
“This is truly a significant event for residents of Prospect Heights,” said Executive Director Vadnais. “Through this private-public partnership, we are preserving 292 units of affordable housing and producing an additional 20 affordable units within the City of Pawtucket. I applaud the efforts of our partners in working toward providing a quality product for the residents of historic Prospect Heights, and I applaud the residents for their patience during the transition in management and enduring the relocation process.”
Residents will be temporarily relocated to vacant on-site units during the phased construction, which is expect to be completed in April 2020 The Pawtucket Housing Authority is overseeing the redevelopment project.
“We are pleased to be part of preserving one of Pawtucket’s first public housing communities. We anticipate that the redeveloped homes in this phase will help improve the quality of life for the residents of Pawtucket,” said Sharon Morris, Executive Director of Omni Development Corporation. “Omni is thankful to Lawrence Brown, the former executive director, and everyone involved with moving Prospect Heights forward.”
This will be the first RAD project in Rhode Island and the first RAD project nationwide to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“As the first development in the State to utilize the Federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, Prospect Heights is a great example of how RIHousing can help partners leverage their resources to maintain our housing stock throughout Rhode Island,” said Barbara Fields, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The preservation of these apartments will help to strengthen families, the community, and the local economy for years to come, making Pawtucket an even more vibrant and attractive place to live and work.”
Brian Poor of David Presbrey Architects in Providence, RI, is the architect for the project. Craig Sutton, of STAND Corporation in Warwick, RI, is the general contractor.
“Expanding and restoring housing is an essential part of our effort to grow economic opportunity in Rhode Island,” said Rhode Island Commerce Corporation President Jesse Saglio. “This development represents a significant step towards our goal of ensuring that Rhode Islanders at every income level have access to quality housing.”
Prospect Heights is one of 18 properties, totaling 1,950 apartments, managed by WinnResidential in Rhode Island.
WinnCompanies is an award-winning national developer and manager of high-impact affordable, middle income and market rate housing communities. Supported by 3,000 team members, the company acquires, develops and manages affordable, senior, mixed-income, market rate, military and mixed use properties. Founded in 1971, WinnCompanies is one of the nation’s most trusted multi-family housing managers with a portfolio of 100,000 units in 22 states and the District of Columbia. It is the largest manager of affordable housing and the second largest manager of privatized military housing in the U.S.
About Omni Development Corporation
Omni Development Corporation is a not-for-profit development corporation that provides affordable housing for low-to-moderate income families in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Omni has developed over 1,200 units of affordable housing in the past 20 years, fueling a renaissance to some of Rhode Island’s poorest neighborhoods, replacing vacant lots and abandoned properties with high quality, safe and affordable housing for residents who otherwise may not be able to obtain it.
RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live and work in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. RIHousing uses its resources to provide loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations.