Life Skills Apartments/Fillmore Place was an acq/rehab conceived as a “special needs” project—and the identity stuck. Mr. Miller had long been aware of the 48 Life Skills apartments occupied by developmentally-disabled residents, as he formerly resided a few blocks from them. He recognized that Life Skills, supported by a project-based HAP contract, would be a strong contender for LIHTC financing under MHDC’s Special Needs Housing priority, but he felt the project required greater scale. When Miller acquired a vacant 1.25 acre lot adjacent to the Life Skills site, already zoned multifamily after a failed 2008 condo project, the development effort gained traction.
Miller approached Easterseals Midwest, then the Life Skills owner, about a transaction which would modernize the property and relieve Easterseals of the real estate burden, while keeping it in place as the service provider for the developmentally-disabled residents. An agreement was reached, and Renaissance Property Group applied for 4% LIHTC, bond and HOME financing for the Life Skills acq/rehab as well as the construction of 16 new senior units on the vacant parcel, to be known as Fillmore Place. The application was approved, and in March 2015, City Real Estate Advisors and Gardner Capital closed equity investments in the project, along with a private bond placed with Sterling National Bank.
Upon its completion, the project was hailed as a resounding success by Easterseals, the residents and MHDC, as well as RPG’s limited partners and lender.