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Berg Tax Credit Application Approved and Delivered

The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) Board of Commissioners made it under the wire to file for tax credits in conjunction with the redevelopment of Samuel Madden Homes (Downtown), known as "The Berg."

With only 48 hours remaining before the deadline for the application to be in the hands of the Virginia Housing Development Authority, ARHA's Board gave unanimous approval on March 12 for CEO William Dearman to file two tax credit applications — one for The Berg and the other for the three off-site locations.

ARHA's Board acted within hours of the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denying an appeal for injunctive relief by the Alexandria Resident Council (ARC) to offset a denial of their original plea for a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court.

In their decision the three Appeals Court judges stated, "Appellant [ARC] has not satisfied the stringent standards required for the injunctive relief sought." They further ordered "that the order filed Feb. 28, 2003, imposing an administrative stay, be vacated."

A. Melvin Miller, ARHA Board chairman, said, "The documents to file the applications for the tax credits must be approved tonight and in Richmond by Friday. They have been reviewed by our counsel, and we must give the CEO the authority to execute them."

Miller also noted, "Negotiations are still under way with our developer [Eakin/Youngentab Associates], but I don't anticipate any serious problems." With six members present and voting, the necessary authority was approved.

TRIGGERING THE DELAY in the tax credit filing was an action by ARC against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development seeking to prevent the sale of The Berg to ARHA's developer. It contends ARC has not been given due consideration as a potential developer. This matter is still before the District Court with no ruling by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson as of March 18.

ARC also asked the District Court for a temporary stay against HUD, thus thwarting the filings for the tax credits. When Jackson denied this, ARC's attorney's, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and local attorney, Paul Fiscella, appealed that ruling to the Appeals Court. This effectively blocked action by ARHA to apply for the tax credits due to necessary action by HUD until the appeal was adjudicated.

"There is nothing to prevent HUD from now acting," Miller announced. As for the basic lawsuit, seeking to have HUD reopen the bid process on The Berg, ARHA vice chairman, Carlyle C. Ring Jr. said, "If they [ARC] appeal a decision in favor of HUD [on the primary case to prevent the deal with Eakin/Youngentab Associates (EYA)], we can move to expedite the court's action in light of the urgency of the project."

In presenting the necessary documents for approval, Jeff Lines, program manager with the consulting firm TAG Associates of Norwood, Mass., working on behalf of ARHA to interface with EYA, explained, "There are three elements to each document which enables ARHA to apply for the tax credits and basically says that ARHA has site control."

RING CLARIFIED that ARHA's right-of-first-refusal agreement pertaining to the buyout price would be equal to the outstanding debt at the end of the 15-year limited partnership agreement. Commissioner Ruby Tucker questioned why ARHA needed such a right "since the 52 units" to be owned by ARHA "are public housing."

Lines said that due to the mixed financing, "ARHA will maintain a long-term ownership in the land." Miller further noted, "We have a letter from the city that we will make financing payments in lieu of taxes."

Lines acknowledged there are two partnerships in this arrangement. One is a limited partnership pertaining to the tax credits for the investors. The tax credits apply to the income restricted properties. A second partnership pertains to an operating agreement for the developers.

Dearman previously informed the Board that the tax credits are "worth approximately $10 million" to the project's 52 on-site and 48 off-site units. The credits are awarded once yearly. If the application is not filed on time, it cannot be done for another year. This would delay the project for at least a year and possibly kill it altogether, according to the Board.