Interested in construction projects? Look to city leaders who are desperate for affordable housing projects!

City leaders have lots of priorities, but perhaps none more critical than affordable housing!

Teachers, medical personnel, public safety officers, first responders and others need to be able to live downtown, but because urban real estate is so expensive, it is almost impossible for them to find affordable housing. City leaders know they must change that reality.

Residents in cities that lack good public transportation have incredibly high transportation costs. The costs are so high there is a huge disincentive to moving to the city. Auto-intensive cities such as Austin, Orlando and Las Vegas have transportation costs that are prohibitive.  Because of that, it is almost impossible to hire people whose jobs require them to locate and find living accommodations downtown. City officials are continually reaching out to potential private-sector partners to help them remedy this serious problem.

There are all kinds of successful public-private partnerships (P3s) related to affordable housing projects. And, city leaders are taking long looks at P3s. The success of a Mountain View affordable housing public-private partnership in California has led other cities to pursue affordable housing programs using a variety of funding mechanisms—tax credits, low-interest loans, grants, incentives and the transfer of city-owned property to developers. And, recent voter-approved affordable housing bonds and taxes in places like Los Angeles, Calif., Greensboro, N.C., Boston, Mass. and Portland, Ore. will soon announce funding for construction of affordable housing units.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation and the state’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development have announced plans to redevelop the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. The five-acre site will soon offer affordable housing, recreational venues and retail space. Developers of the $300 million project plan to demolish the detention center and replace it with 740 units of affordable housing, a 52,000-square-foot public plaza, 49,000 square feet of industrial space, 48,000 square feet of community facility space and 21,000 square feet of retail space.

The city of Berkeley is experiencing homelessness and affordable housing crisis. As part of its “Step Up Housing” initiative, the city will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to select a developer to create up to 100 small residential units, AKA “micro units”, on small city-owned lots. These units will be made available to formerly homeless and other very low income residents.

In November 2016, voters in Ashville, N.C. approved $25 million in affordable housing bonds. $10 million is available to provide additional support for the city’s Housing Trust Fund, which makes low-interest loans to incentivize developers to build affordable housing. The remaining $15 million will be used to repurpose city-owned land for affordable housing. Currently, three sites have been proposed for study as options for developing affordable housing. The studies, which will utilize outside consultants, will include environmental assessments, appraisals, surveys and conceptual designs.

Just this month, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced a plan to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy and protect residents from future floods. Part of the $481 million plan includes proposed affordable housing projects, including the development of five acres of vacant city-owned lots on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. In addition to affordable housing units, the mixed-use development will include retail and community facilities.

The city of Detroit recently issued an RFP for developers interested in multi-family housing in the former Transfiguration School on the east side. The RFP is designed to attract developers capable of planning a mixed-income development that contains 15-25 residential units with 20 percent designated as affordable housing. Proposals are due on May 22, 2017.

Opportunities are not the problem. Construction firms interested in partnering with cities for affordable housing will find a huge abundance of opportunities. The problem, and perhaps the question, is this—which construction firms want to build this type of housing?  If these firms step up soon, the companies are likely to  find city leaders waiting with open arms.

Memphis P3 to revitalize riverfront

Memphis officials have accepted a $5 million matching grant from Reimagining the Civic Commons to help connect an area of the city’s riverfront to the downtown area. A public-private partnership (P3/PPP) will utilize $10 million to revitalize and connect the public spaces in the Fourth Bluff area over a three-year period. Some of the proposed ideas for the project include upgrades to the Mississippi River Park, Memphis Park and Cossitt Library as well as a redesigned path featuring public art another other amenities.

Rhode Island school districts end construction moratorium

Many Rhode Island school districts are making plans to move forward with long-planned construction projects. Last year a four-year moratorium on state funding for school construction was lifted and this summer, the General Assembly approved $80 million for school renovations and repairs.

An independent audit of public schools in the state is underway. Results of the audit will be released next year, which may lead to more funding, but many districts are not waiting to address needed projects.

The North Providence district has approved a $75 million bond issue for the November ballot. Projects will include two new elementary schools and health and safety upgrades at all the remaining buildings.

“The school buildings are in very poor condition and must be addressed. If I could change anything it would be to address the learning environments in our schools – it is critical to the community,” said North Providence Superintendent Melinda Smith in a recent interview with WPRI News.

Barrington Public Schools has planned a $68.4 million middle school, to be built on the same site as the current school. The roof of the existing school failed last winter and the classrooms are too small for a middle school.

The School Committee of Westerly recently approved a $38.5 million elementary school redesign project. The project includes three schools that would receive extensive site improvements, additions, separate bus and parent drop-offs, combined gymnasiums and cafeterias, heating and air-conditioning and bathroom renovations.

SPI’s team of  public-private partnership consultants offer companies a competitive advantage on procurement opportunities. Contact them today.