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An Immediate Success: Rivers Edge Apartments

Located within a couple miles of historic Camden, South Carolina, Rivers Edge Apartments is an 80-unit rural family development that consists of 14 one- and two-story townhome buildings and a community center. The quaint residential neighborhood is just minutes away from ample shopping and dining as well as the National North Carolina Cup racetrack.

Rivers Edge was developed and operates with federal housing financing. The property has a Section (Sec.) 8 rent contract on all 80 of the units to make rent affordable to low-income tenants. The site was originally constructed in 1979 and previously renovated in 1994. In 2013, Affordable Housing Partners, Inc., based in Sanibel Island, Florida, sought funding to acquire and renovate the apartment complex. The site would then be managed by SPM Property Management. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, SPM manages over 150 apartment communities and has a portfolio with a geographical footprint that originated in the Southeast and has expanded to include Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C. SPM is focused on maximizing income and increasing property values by developing a customized package of services to meet the needs of each particular owner.

At the time when Affordable Housing Partners sought funding for the acquisition and renovation, the complex was still known by its previous name, Wateree Villas. The property was in need of upgrades to the building exteriors, unit interiors and the community building in order to preserve and maintain it for future affordable tenants. Affordable Housing Partners was awarded 9% low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) from the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority and sought another funding source to complete the acquisition and rehabilitation.

  

Affordable Housing Partners worked with its mortgage bank which recommended using Fannie Mae’s Affordable Housing Finance program in conjunction with LIHTC equity to acquire and rehabilitate the apartment complex. Specifically, the mortgage bank utilized Fannie Mae’s Moderate Rehabilitation Immediate Funding program, which allows owners to perform a tenant-in-place rehabilitation on an existing stabilized project in conjunction with 9% or 4% LIHTCs.

Fannie Mae’s Moderate Rehabilitation Immediate Funding program is an extremely attractive option when significant upgrades are planned that are anticipated to minimally impact occupancy or operations of the project. Minimal operational impact is important because the program entails closing on an amortizing loan, which requires principal and interest payments during the rehabilitation period. The benefits come from establishing the permanent interest rate at the closing of the loan and taking advantage of immediate loan pricing. Since the project was to be completely occupied throughout the rehabilitation, the mortgage bank was able to structure an immediate funding through Fannie Mae and allow Affordable Housing Partners to reap the benefits.

“The immediate funding structure provided several advantages,” said Jeff Banker, vice president with Lancaster Pollard who worked with Affordable Housing Partners to complete the financing. “Benefits include the ability to lock the rate immediately versus a forward rate lock, the removal of conversion risk as the loan begins amortizing immediately, and the fact that no letter of credit is required during the construction period.”

The mortgage bank worked closely with Fannie Mae to process the application so that the loan would close on a tight timeline. The end result of the transaction was a $2.2 million fixed-rate loan enhanced by the Fannie Mae Affordable Housing program that was used in conjunction with 9% LIHTCs. The immediate funding resulted in a low interest rate and an 18-year term.

 

The financing provided for major renovations at approximately $52,000 per unit throughout the property. Major renovations include building a new children’s playground with tot lot, a new covered picnic area and a new drip-line irrigation system. Other exterior updates include new roofing, siding, paving, aluminum gutter coil, a pergola and custom landscaping design. In addition, the renovation included a full interior update with new ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, including refrigerators, stoves, microwaves and HVAC systems. Also included are new plumbing systems, lighting fixtures, cabinetry, hardware, flooring, electric water heaters, sinks, bathtubs and several other significant upgrades.

 

Residents at Rivers Edge appreciate all the improvements and upgrades.

“To me the community is much better than what is was,” said Geraldine Brown, who has lived at Rivers Edge for 15 years. “The overall changes have really made a pleasant difference.”

 

Ruby Salmond, a resident of Rivers Edge for 37 years, believes the renovations to the complex have not only improved it physically, but have enhanced the atmosphere as well. “Since the renovation, the community feels more like home,” she said. “It’s more family oriented.”

Ada Atkins, a resident of the complex for 37 years, agreed. “The community has improved greatly since the renovations,” she said. “I am glad to call Rivers Edge my home.”

 

Other property amenities at Rivers Edge include an onsite laundry center, a pavilion with picnic tables and grills, a resident computer center, courtesy officers and monitored surveillance cameras, as well as a community room with a full kitchen. 

After taking a look at the new and improved Rivers Edge and talking to its happy residents, it is clear that the renovations were a smashing success. Thanks to the determined participants, the acquisition and rehabilitation financing will position Rivers Edge Apartments as a quality affordable housing complex that will be able to serve its residents well into the future.

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