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Development Spotlight | Raintree Apartments, Rainsville

February 27, 2018

Development Info:

24 units, built in 1989 and rehabilitated in 2015
Serves: families and elderly in DeKalb County
AHFA funding sources: $162,521 in 2015 Housing Credits | $33,702 in 1989 Housing Credits

Amenities/Tenant Services:

Raintree Apartments serves low- and very low-income tenants across a range of ages. Children under 18 years old make up about 30 percent of occupancy and adults 55 years or older make up about 20 percent. Over half of the development's units have USDA RD Rental assistance or tenant-based Section 8 vouchers.

In addition to important amenities such as a playground, office, energy efficient appliances, etc., Raintree meets the requirements of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). There are three handicapped accessible units and 5 percent of units are designed and constructed to be readily accessible to individuals with mobility impairments. An additional 2 percent of the units are accessible to individuals with sensory impairments (i.e., hearing or vision impairments).  

Revitalization of Aging Housing Stock:

Raintree is an acquisition/rehabilitation of a prior-funded (1989) Housing Credit development. Development team member Mark English, president and board chairman of National Affordable Housing Preservation Associates (NAHPA), said, "I am happy that I am able to be involved with projects such as Raintree. We have breathed new life into the development so that it can continue in its 30-year career of serving low-income tenants in the rural Alabama town of Rainsville."

Rehabilitation of an operating property is complicated by two main issues: existing tenants and functional obsolescence. "Any rehab must be managed so as to disrupt the lives of our existing tenants as little as possible," said English. "This situation adds a level of expense and complexity that does not exist in new construction." 

Additionally in the past ten years, the move to better serve tenants has caused housing finance agencies to require more amenities in their qualified allocation plans. Older developments often have smaller units and/or less marketable unit mixes (too many one bedroom units or two and three bedroom units with only one bathroom, etc.). English said, "Adding these amenities to an existing development can be much more complicated and expensive than building them in new construction."

Item of Interest: 

The ownership structure of Raintree is a joint venture between nonprofits (NAHPA) and for-profits (RTRC 2015 AL, LLC, represented by Lowell R. Barron, and Westside, LLC, represented by Charles S. Stirling).

English said of the joint venture experience, "From my perspective, joint venturing with for-profit companies causes few to no challenges. At the end of the day, such a partnership ends up as a win-win-win situation; NAHPA is fulfilling its mission while earning money so we can keep fulfilling our mission, our for-profit partners are making money by helping to produce housing, tenants have safe, decent, affordable, accessible, attractive, well-located housing that they can afford."

"I truly believe that the key to a successful team is a width and breadth of experiences. The more different types of partners a development team has, the more likely it is to find the best solutions to the issues that inevitably arise when developing real estate. Working with for-profit partners can often provide a perspective that differs from NAHPA's experience as a non-profit. The more we all work together, the more we will help our ultimate customer - the tenants."