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New mixed-income model for affordable housing in Puerto Rico opens doors in San Juan’s Central Business District

December 19, 2017 | McCormack Baron Salazar

McCormack Baron Salazar in partnership with the Puerto Rico Department of Housing demonstrates the transformation of a vacant affordable housing site into a new, vibrant, mixed-income community

The Puerto Rico Department of Housing and national affordable housing developer, McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., welcomed dignitaries, including the Governor of Puerto Rico, former residents, community members and the media to an open house at the new Renaissance Square mixed-income apartment community. Located in the Hato Rey Barrio, Renaissance Square represents a new paradigm for affordable housing in Puerto Rico – in which families from all income levels can live together and thrive.

A public/private partnership between the Department of Housing, McCormack Baron Salazar, and private investors used public dollars to leverage private equity, resulting in $35.5 million invested in the transformation of the former public housing site. The new community has 140 apartment homes with one-, two- and three-bedroom units affordable to families with a range of incomes; of the 140 total units, 60% are reserved for very-low income families, 20% are reserved for workforce, and 20% have market-rate rents.

Located in the heart of the San Juan Financial District “The Golden Mile,” the community has walk-up and townhome-style apartment buildings with market-rate amenities, green energy-saving design, and resilient features. “Through our close coordination with the Department of Housing and HUD, we understood the need to plan, design, and build resilient housing. The buildings are designed to withstand direct impact of a Category 4 storm,” said Vincent R. Bennett, President of McCormack Baron Salazar. “We could have never anticipated the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria while still under construction, but with a quick remobilization by the general contractor, the new homes will soon be available for families in Puerto Rico.”

In addition to the resilient design, the new community creates a new standard for community design in Puerto Rico. It connects to the larger neighborhood, providing residents access to job centers, transportation, schools and recreation. It also includes state-of-the-art site amenities with onsite management space, as well as a community space with a fitness room and a business center for residents. As a mixed-use development, Renaissance Square incorporates commercial space to be occupied by a Centro Ahorros Tienda.

“The opening of Renaissance Square is a first for Puerto Rico,” Daniel F. Acosta, Senior Vice President of MBS and Project Manager, remarked.  “Especially given the circumstances in Puerto Rico right now, we are proud that we are providing these levels of affordability within this kind of first-rate community.” The community also has integrated health and safety features like walking trails, play areas, community gardens, site lighting, and controlled-access parking.

McCormack Baron Salazar is also the lead developer in the redevelopment of housing sites in Historic Old San Juan and in Caguas.

A core component of the McCormack Baron Salazar development approach is layering public and private funds to transform communities across the country. At Renaissance Square, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Puerto Rico Department of Housing committed significant funding and the Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority provided low-income housing tax credits. Hunt Capital Partners provided tax credit equity and Citi Community Capital serves as the construction lender. Planning and architectural services are provided by Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón. The general contractor for the redevelopment effort is F&R Construction Group, Inc.

Learn more here.