UPDATED: APRIL 12, 2016 4:20 PM — Tampa-based InVictus Development has the favored redevelopment proposal for 6.06 acres in the Parramore neighborhood for mixed-income residential, emerging from a final four over the past month to be ranked first by Orlando's Parramore Redevelopment Advisory Committee on April 7.
With its proposal named "Parramore Oaks," InVictus would develop a 211-unit mixed-income, family-oriented rental development with one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
The land is located on the northwest, southwest and southeast corners of Parramore Avenue and Conley Street, west of Downtown Orlando and just a few blocks south of Orlando City Soccer Club's new stadium.
The city and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which collectively own the property, detailed in submission requirements published Nov. 5 that family-oriented housing and communal open spaces were desired, along with potential ground-floor retail along Parramore Avenue to aid in the neighborhood's revitalization.
The committee's recommendation will next go before the CRA Advisory Board in late April, then City Council and the CRA Board in May for approval. The rankings are expected to come before City Council as soon as May 9.
If approved, the city's real estate division will negotiate a development agreement with InVictus. That agreement would also go before City Council for approval.
"InVictus had a record of achievement that was very strong regarding Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), so their ability to navigate that process -- a very competitive and complex one -- was outstanding," Thomas Chatmon, executive director of the Downtown Development Board and Community Redevelopment Agency, told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday.
"A project of this type doesn't work without the credits or a similar tool to fill the huge financial gap of the pro-forma budget," he continued. "State law for tax credits evolves constantly, and InVictus was very astute. We think they give us the highest probability of being successful, while minimizing the amount of local public funds that have to go into the project."
In InVictus' proposal, 80 percent of the property would be affordable housing (renters making no more than 60 percent of Area Median Income), and 20 percent would be market rate units. Five percent of the total would be permanent supportive housing for the homeless.
"Our whole team went out to the site and pulled together the response for this proposal, and for a small company it was a drop-everything proposition," said Paula Rhodes, president of InVictus Development. "We knew it was a really good opportunity to do something special for an area that really needs it."
A key financing ingredient of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) is one InVictus can't really pursue until Fall 2016, after the Florida Housing Finance Corp. opens the annual application process.
"But in the meantime we would have quite a bit of work to do," Rhodes said. "We'd prepare a fully engineered site plan for the city's approval, and need to start working on other due diligence items that are required, for the purposes of putting an application in to Florida Housing."
Built in two phases, Phase 1 would include a three-story apartment building with 20 units, a four-story building with 80 units and 17 townhomes (117 units overall). Phase 2 would include two four-story buildings with 40 units each, and 14 townhomes (94 units total). Green building and energy saving features would be featured throughout the development.
InVictus claimed its proposal exceeds the project plan requirements by providing a greater number of affordable housing units that requested, a choice driven by high demand for such units in the neighborhood.
Maintaining 20 percent of the units as market rate is strategic, the developer wrote in their proposal, because while initial market rates for that neighborhood won't be much higher than the price of affordable units, they can rise over time. That meshes with the city's goal of revitalizing Parramore in a way that doesn't carry the stigma attached to an entirely low-income community.
InVictus projects a budget of $23.7 million to develop Phase 1, including $460,500 estimated to buy the city's land.
Both phases would be structured as mixed-finance developments, using a combination of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity, private debt, and local funds consisting of dedicated CRA Parramore money, Community Development Block Grants, HOME Program funds (from Housing and Urban Development), and State Housing Initiative Partnership funds.
InVictus said it would apply for LIHTC funding for Phase 1 in late 2016, close on all financing in mid- to late 2017, finish construction by late 2018 and lease up to full capacity by late 2019. Phase 2 would follow a similar schedule, with construction to finish by late 2019.
InVictus' Rhodes would bring a wealth of experience to the Parramore project, after completing similar urban housing revitalization projects in Florida.
In her previous role as director of development in the southeast for NorStar Development USA, Rhodes oversaw the 171-unit Gulf Breeze Apartments project in Punta Gorda, a mixed-income development to replace housing destroyed by a hurricane.
In 2009, NorStar was awarded the 15th annual Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award under the category of "Public Housing Revitalization," for its Punta Gorda project. This award was presented by the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition (AHTCC).
Rhodes also oversaw the Hope Six redevelopment with the Fort Myers Housing Authority, a complete demolition and rebuilding of a low-income housing community known as Michigan Court that was in severe disrepair, and suffered from regular crime.
Rhodes' Norstar team partnered with the city on a 120-unit senior housing phase there, and 272 other mixed-income units. The first phase was completed in 2009, with the final phase being finished this year, she said.
The no. 2 ranked proposal was from Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (ONIC), a non-profit developer based in Orlando that has focused on affordable housing since 1989.
ONIC proposed 112 units of solely rental housing, made up of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and townhomes, with a mix of units dedicated to affordable, active senior, market rate and the chronically homeless.
ONIC could be considered in the future if InVictus' proposal is not approved by CRA and City Council, or if that preferred developer's financing plans fall through.