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 (May 15, 2018) - 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 insure 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.
Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation 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.
Omni Development Corporation is proud to announce the selection of Sharon Morris as its new Executive Director. The Board of Directors of Omni Development Corporation, under the leadership of its board Chairman and President, Laurence K. Flynn, conducted a vigorous selection process which fielded over 85 applicants. The board is grateful for the tireless work of its search committee during the selection and interview process.
The board extends its sincere appreciation for the hard work and dedication of Lawrence Brown, CPA, outgoing executive director, for sustaining the organization for the past two years after the passing of Omni’s Longtime executive director, Joseph Caffey whose name and dedication were synonymous with Omni‘s excellent work and existence. Ms. Denise Ruffin, Director of Asset Management for the organization, has been appointed by the Board in the interim and will have full operational control until Ms. Morris assumes her position.
With Ms. Morris’ extensive background in affordable housing, and her long-standing commitment and national experience, the board looks forward to her leadership, strong advocacy and perseverance to achieve the goals the board has set for the future of Omni Development Corporation and its service to those in need of affordable housing in the Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Sharon Morris grew up in South Providence, and is a graduate of Central High School. She received her B.A. Degree from Livingstone College (Salisbury, NC) and M.A. Degree from the University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI).
Ms. Morris has worked in the Affordable Housing Industry for 19 years. Most recently she was the Director of Compliance at the National Equity Fund, Inc (NEF). She joined NEF in 2007 as an Asset Manager. NEF is the largest non-profit syndicator of low income housing tax credits in the United States with a portfolio of over 2,584 properties, totaling 166,632 units. She previously held positions at Rhode Island Housing and WinnResidental.
Ms. Morris resides in Providence with her family. She is actively involved in a number of community organizations in the Greater Providence Area.
It is with mixed sentiments that we announce the retirement of Lawrence E. Brown from Omni Development Corporation. He has served as Omni's President for the past 3 years, previously serving as its Vice President of Finance/ Chief Financial Officer. Larry is a graduate of Bryant College (RI) with a degree in business administration, and of Bentley College (MA) with a Master of Science degree in taxation.
Prior to joining Omni, Larry practiced public as well as private accounting for more than 35 years in both the government and private sectors, including the auditing of commercial and non-profit agencies. He is a member of the Rhode Island Society of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs.
Larry has dedicated his time to serving on numerous boards and commissions over the years, including time as an elected official on the Providence City Council. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Home Loan and Investment Bank.
Although we are sad to see him retire from Omni, we are sure he will enjoy the new adventures and travel that retirement brings. Larry has been a great asset to the corporation and he will be remembered as hardworking, dedicated, and a true inspiration to us all.
Board of Directors and Omni Staff