A Denver-based real estate company specializing in affordable multi-unit family and senior housing has bought several low-income or senior housing units in central Maine for $21 million and expects to renovate the properties.

Steele Properties LLC, which acquires and develops properties for the management company Monroe Group, bought the properties from Portland-based Liberty Cos. They include seven multi-family and senior project-based Section 8 properties: the Fairfield Family Apartments, Fort Halifax Commons in Winslow, the M.C. Smith Apartments and Sherwood Apartments in Farmington; Pittsfield Gardens, Richmond Senior Citizens Park, and the West-Front Residences in Skowhegan. It also includes one non-Section 8 multi-family property, Green Acres Estates in West Bath.

The Monroe Group has been managing the properties since the fall of 2016 and will continue to oversee property management. All told, the portfolio includes 170 units.

Jennifer Cloud, a development director at Steele who is overseeing the project, said Steele is focused on preserving existing affordable housing across the country and always is looking to expand its portfolio. She said the company had the opportunity to acquire the Maine portfolio and it fit in with the company’s mission. This will be its first venture in Maine, although it does have property in Connecticut.

“We’re really excited to venture into Maine and excited to see the improvements these communities will have,” Cloud said.

The project is financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits allocated by MaineHousing and Tax Credit equity provided by PNC Bank as well as Tax Exempt Bond financing and a subordinate financing provided by MaineHousing, according to a news release from Steele.

Renovations will vary depending on the property and include extensive interior and exterior work, with major energy upgrades. Rehabilitation costs will be over $42,000 per unit. Interior work will include upgraded plumbing and electrical systems, paint, flooring and doors. Kitchens will be upgraded and bathrooms will get new features. Twelve units across the properties also will be converted to be accessible by people with disabilities. Two new community buildings with laundry facilities will be built. New playgrounds for multi-family properties also will be installed.

The Monroe Group founded Steele Properties in 2006 to conduct all real estate development and property acquisitions. Monroe has a portfolio of 52 properties and over 4,800 units across 15 states. Since it was formed in 2006, Steele has completed over $700 million in acquisitions, sales and development involving more than 50 properties and more than 5,000 units, including over 40 tax credit projects.

According to Steele’s website, the company specializes “in acquiring Section 8 assets with strong communities and making large investments to ensure long term preservation.” The company’s website states its mission is to “preserve, improve and increase needed affordable housing opportunities in communities across the country.”

Cloud said the timetable for renovation depends on the particular site; but by this time next year, she said, the company hopes to have finished all the renovation. The units are occupied now, but tenants will not be displaced during renovation, which Cloud said have already started. Some will be done faster than others, she said.

“The tenants there will continue to live there throughout the renovations,” she said.

Steele largely focuses on acquiring and renovating properties, Cloud said, though it does some construction as a company, which is limited to its home state, Colorado.

Cloud called acquiring and renovating affordable housing units a “niche industry” but said it’s important to Steele that existing affordable housing units be preserved.

In a news release, Steele Properties Principal Hud Karshmer said Steele is “committed to ensuring everyone has access to safe, comfortable and quality housing they can afford, especially as our country faces an affordable housing crisis,” and thanked investment partners “that helped us protect and enhance 170 affordable housing units in Maine.”

Monroe was founded over 30 years ago by Stuart Heller, who is also a principal at Steele, with a belief “that everyone deserves a safe, clean and comfortable place to live no matter your age, income or ability,” according to the group’s website.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

 

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