Leviticus provided Housing Visions with a $709,630 predevelopment loan using Project Start Fund capital-plus another $693,000 in permanent financing—to support Housing Visions’ conversion of a brownfield site on Oswego’s waterfront into a 75-unit mixed-income, mixed-use development. The project will be a gateway from Oswego’s harbor to its downtown and a key piece of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
“Oswego has some large employers with good-paying jobs, but it has not had a lot of new housing. In many other markets, our site would have been a prime piece of lakefront residential real estate—the problem was that it was severely contaminated. But the city saw it as a place to create some new homes and to create a marker on its horizon that drew people in, and they wanted to tether workforce and market-rate housing to some affordable housing. All of these factors make this project really complex. If we were market-driven, we may not have thought it was worth our effort, but we look at all different angles to see how a project can work and help to transform a neighborhood.
“Leviticus was instrumental for us, because they provided us the predevelopment funds to get us to closing and to help us preserve our cash flow. They were very flexible and had very competitive rates. There are not a lot of options for predevelopment loans, but Leviticus has been a leader in that realm. We’ve worked with them on three different loans, because they get what we’re trying to accomplish.
“The project itself will bring people of different incomes together in one building, and it can be a catalyst for other development and smaller developers in the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. By redeveloping a brownfield site and creating a new large mixed-use building, we’ll also have another model we can replicate in the future in other communities.”
President/CEO, Housing Visions
HARBOR VIEW AT A GLANCE
MIXED-INCOME, MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT
BEACH 21ST STREET
Through Project Start Fund, Leviticus provided The Community Builders (TCB) with a $700,000 predevelopment loan to help TCB launch development of this 224-unit affordable housing project, which will include a daycare center and ground-floor commercial space. The project will help anchor a master plan to revitalize downtown Far Rockaway, and will ensure that local residents will thrive in place as their neighborhood flourishes
“This community has a vision for what it’s going to be: new buildings, new homes, new businesses, but also some new parks, a new library, and new infrastructure that the city is spearheading. We’re one cog in what will be a totally reimagined and rejuvenated neighborhood, and we’re lucky to contribute a significant new affordable housing development to support the vision that this community put together.
“Until we get permitting approvals, projects like this can be risky ventures. We have to go through a large public process, secure permits, and secure public financing, and these processes are important but also very expensive. Leviticus is willing to take a chance on us and to lend us a nontraditional product at an affordable rate, and they do this because we are both trying to accomplish the same goal, which is to improve people’s lives. They understand the impact we’re trying to have in the community, and they are willing to get in on the ground floor with us as a lender and as a partner.
“Our project may just be a new building in some people’s eyes, but in reality, it’s a keystone. We’re the first shovel in the ground in a community that has not seen new investment in a very long time, and one that will soon be full of new opportunities for the folks who live there.”
Senior Project Manager
The Community Builders
BEACH 21st STREET AT A GLANCE
GROVE STREET MUTUAL HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
WINDSOR LOCKS, CT
A $300,000 loan from Leviticus supported Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford in making extensive interior renovations at its 55 Grove Street project. The upgrades will improve living space and generate energy savings for the nonprofit and the 21 resident families earning annual salaries between $43,000 and $62,000.
“We acquired Grove Street in 1994. It was a vacant school and Mutual Housing’s Executive Director, Cathy MacKinnon, saw it had potential to be redesigned into affordable housing. After finishing the 15 year investor compliance period, we decided to give it a face-lift to make it more attractive and marketable.
“We looked at what improvements would have the greatest positive impact for the residents. All the units are getting hardwood floors, new ventilation, freshly painted rooms and new doors. We also focused on green improvements, installing high-efficiency boilers to reduce consumption and provide consistent heat, and LED lighting to keep down both our operating expenses and costs to residents. The hardwood floors are more sustainable and healthier, especially with children in the house and asthma rates. We wanted to be responsive to those needs.
“The renovations are happening with residents in place. It requires a lot of coordination and is taking longer, but residents appreciated that they did not have to move out. We provide work schedule updates and so far it has been a smooth process.
“Affordable housing doesn’t generate a lot of cash to support debt, and a conventional lender would expect us to raise the rents to meet the debt service. Leviticus is much easier to work with because they understand that it’s about keeping families in place and meeting our mission to provide high-quality affordable units. We haven’t raised the rents because we don’t want to displace people. We want this to be affordable rental in Windsor Locks where people can afford to stay and are proud to call home.”
Director of Real Estate Development
Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, Inc.
GROVE STREET AT A GLANCE
STABILIZED AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Leviticus provided Greyston with a 15-year, $1.3 million loan to support the first phase of its plan to revamp its main office into a state-of-the-art facility designed to host its Center for Open Hiring. The Center will be a national hub where Greyston will advance and replicate its innovative Open Hiring employment model and will promote a future in which everyone who wants to work has an opportunity to do so.
At our bakery, we provide jobs with no questions asked: no background checks; no reference checks; no interviews. We just have a list, and if you put your name on it, one day you will get a call, and you will be told you have a job. That list alone is life-changing in that it gives hope to people who might not otherwise have hope. If we can inspire other businesses to adopt this model and teach them how to do it, we can offer this hope to not just the hundred workers we employ, but thousands upon thousands of people facing barriers to employment.
“Leviticus’ loan will allow us to make the changes we need to transform our building from a simple nonprofit headquarters into a thriving center for thought leadership on how to build an inclusive economy and how Open Hiring can drive it forward. The Center will have classrooms, conference rooms, event spaces, research space, modern technology—anything you might expect a national center and world class facility to have to attract talent. Leviticus’ values are completely aligned with Greyston’s, and they were very supportive of our strategy and recognized its potential.
“There is an urgency for change. The Center for Open Hiring is a vehicle to make that change happen before the gap between the haves and the have nots becomes so great that we can never recover. Bold and innovative models need to be pursued—Leviticus appreciates that.”
President & CEO
GREYSTON FOUNDATION AT A GLANCE
CENTER FOR HIRING
PROGRAM SPACE EXPANSION
BROOKLYN LABORATORY CHARTER SCHOOL
With a $2.3 million loan, Leviticus joined two other nonprofit lenders to support Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools’ custom build-out of its third campus facility for middle and high school students. A stable, safe school is key to success: LAB scholars receive intensive educational services at four times the state average and 65% are either in foster care, homeless, transitional housing, or on public benefits.
“We serve complex learners: students who have not yet experienced success in school – who have certain brain-based learning and attention issues that shape their school experience. Every student has a jagged learning profile of strengths and gaps. Unfortunately, too many schools tend to see students that have weaknesses as deficient, rather than simply someone needing support to cultivate strengths and address gaps. Our staff has a heart-set and mind-set to recognize all children are capable of achieving at the highest levels.
“Housing instability, like other adversities, has a profound impact on whether students arrive at school ready to learn. Thanks to the support of Leviticus, we are in a position to provide a stable, consistent environment for our scholars and families.
“We strive to be an inclusive learning environment. Every LAB scholar receives two hours of small group instruction daily. In small groups students do interest-driven reading and write essays, are involved in academic discussions and get personal feedback from adults. Students also use appropriate technology tools that support their success.
“Our scholars consistently achieve three years of academic growth in reading, writing, and math for every year they are with us. That matters because we don’t know what jobs will exist in 35 years and we want our students to be well positioned to learn, adapt and participate in that economy.
“We believe that values-driven organizations like Leviticus play an important role in allowing the public sector to realize its potential and to do work inspired by our community’s shared values.”
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools