Bastion was a “special needs” development founded on a unique partnership. Renaissance Property Group entered into an agreement with a New Orleans-based veterans advocacy and support organization in August 2014, after several years of Mr. Miller having acted as its advisor, board member and benefactor. RPG and its nonprofit partner planned to develop a residential community for veterans, based on the belief that in such a setting, vets could assist one another with healing and reintegration.
The road from concept to reality was, as always, long and winding. First, RPG successfully lobbied the Louisiana Housing Corporation to enact a preference for veterans housing. Next, Mr. Miller drew on his long-standing relationships at the City of New Orleans to win a HOME award for the first phase of the project, as well as support for a PILOT through the Industrial Development Board. But as the financing of the project’s first phase was progressing, the bank investing in the tax credits and providing the first mortgage grew petulant, and Mr. Miller was forced to dismiss it, staring afresh with more seasoned players. In June 2016, the phase 1 financing closed and construction of the first 38 units commenced.
RPG won a 9% LIHTC award for a second phase of the project in 2016. Responding to the nonprofit’s call for greater inclusivity, the second phase was structured as a mixed income development, so that veterans who were not income-qualified for the LIHTC units could nonetheless experience the “community as therapy” which Bastion offers. RPG knew from the beginning that financing a mixed income project would be a heavy lift, but the advent of the Trump presidency, and with it the specter of tax reform, added a new dimension to the challenge. Indeed, the whole of 2017 was spent wooing and courting potential investors and lenders, restructuring all aspects of the equity model numerous times, until the effort finally culminated in a December 2017 closing, with an equity investment by City Real Estate Advisors and a first mortgage from Home Bank.