Groundbreaking held at new, resilent community in Caguas, Puerto Rico

January 24, 2019 | McCormack Baron Salazar

The Puerto Rico Department of Housing and national affordable housing developer, McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., today celebrated the groundbreaking of critically-needed, intergenerational, mixed-income housing in the Barrio Turabo. Located on vacant land that was previously a public housing site, the new community includes housing options that are affordable to families and seniors with a broad array of incomes.

When completed, the 20-acre site in Barrio Turabo will have 238 apartments for families in townhomes and walk-up apartments and a 200-unit apartment building for seniors. The new community will also include a 6,400 square foot administrative building with a community room with a business area and wif-fi, a fitness room and management space.  The community will have integrated health and safety features including an enhanced lighting plan, security-controlled parking, smart keys and smart home security, fitness and walking trails, small playgrounds, a community gathering public-park with a main plaza and multiple gazebos. The entire community has been designed to be resilient to major storm events.

“Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria, not only has there been an acute need for more high-quality affordable housing, but also for making sure that that housing is resilient in the face of new storms,” said Vincent R. Bennett, President of McCormack Baron Salazar. “The buildings will include solar photo-voltaic systems, backup emergency power, and are designed to have natural cross-ventilation and reduce heat gain, in the case of power outages.”

The Department of Housing, McCormack Baron Salazar, and private investors financed the development through a public/private partnership that used public dollars to leverage private equity, resulting in just under $130 million invested in the effort. The new family apartments include with one-, two-, three-and four-bedroom units affordable to families with a range of incomes: 60% are reserved for very-low income families, 20% are reserved for workforce, and 20% have market-rate rents. The senior building has 190 one-bedroom units and 10 2-bedroom units, of which 95% are reserved for very-low income seniors and 5% are reserved for low-income seniors. 

The new community elevates the standard for community design in Caguas by connecting to nearby commercial centers with restaurants and shopping, medical facilities, hospitals, an elementary school, and surrounding residential neighborhoods.  In addition, the site is adjacent to the Villa del Carmen Recreational Park - which features a small community center, a running track, play equipment, and a Skate Park.

“Working with the Department of Housing during the recovery from the 2017 Hurricanes has underlined how important it is to bring well-designed and well-built affordable housing options to Puerto Rico,” remarked Daniel F. Acosta, Senior Vice President of McCormack Baron Salazar. “We are excited to be able to bring the partners together to finance and build a resilient community for the residents of Caguas.”

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

A core component of the McCormack Baron Salazar development approach is layering public and private funds to transform communities across the country. In Caguas, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Puerto Rico Department of Housing have committed significant funding including the first use of CDBG-DR funds for a housing development in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority has provided low-income housing tax credits. RBC Capital Markets with Freddie Mac is providing tax credit equity. Citi Community Capital is serving as the construction lender. Planning and architectural services are provided by Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón. F&R Construction Group, Inc. is the general contractor.

Read more about the project and see pictures here.