with investment from Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund, a partnership between Woodforest National Bank and CEI-Boulos Capital Management
The Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund, a high-impact commercial real estate Opportunity Zone (OZ) fund established by Woodforest National Bank® and CEI-Boulos Capital Management, announced an equity investment in the Forge on Main, located in Evansville, Indiana’s Jacobsville neighborhood, a community that has experienced decades of disinvestment. The $28 million, community-supported project responds directly to the City of Evansville’s efforts to expand economic opportunity for current residents and attract new residents for business growth and jobs creation. The ground-up development project includes 180 units of workforce and affordable housing and an urban, smaller footprint grocery store which will provide every day essentials, which helps the community meet its goals of being a place where residents can live, work and play, all within the neighborhood. The project also eliminated blighted and vacant commercial buildings and improves community health by remediating a brownfield.
“CEI-Boulos Capital Management is committed to harnessing the OZ incentive to serve its intended purpose – to help revitalize underinvested communities, like Evansville’s Jacobsville neighborhood,” said Sam Spencer, CEO and Managing Director, CEI-Boulos Capital Management. “We’re thrilled to be working with our partners at House Investments on this transformational project that will bring much needed workforce and affordable housing and a grocery store to the neighborhood on this former brownfield site.”
“We are proud of our Opportunity Zone (OZ) investment which has a direct impact on creating workforce and affordable housing, and goes further to improve places to live,” said Doug Schaeffer, EVP, Executive Director, CRA, Woodforest National Bank. “We continue to seek catalytic investments proven to solve for multiple intractable challenges facing communities suffering from disinvestment for far too long,” he said.
The Forge on Main’s 180 units of workforce housing are priced to be affordable, with 10% of the apartments at rates to be affordable at 60% Area Median Income (AMI) and the remaining units rented at rates to be affordable at 80-120% AMI. The project includes approximately 18,000 square feet of commercial retail space, to which the developer, with the financial support from the City of Evansville and the Evansville Promise Zone, recruited a grocery store which will sell fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat, dairy, eggs, and other staples in this current USDA designated “food desert.” The project involved the remediation of a brownfield site within an EPA Superfund site. The project is located in one of only twenty-two federally designated “Promise Zones” in the U.S., targeted for priority federal support of local redevelopment initiatives. The City of Evansville strongly supports the project and has made aggressive efforts to redevelop the area in a way that lifts up its current residents, while growing the downtown population to support businesses and job growth. The project received a tax abatement from the city, a redevelopment tax credit from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and additional financial support from a local foundation.
“The Forge on Main is truly a community project that would not have been possible without the support from all of our partners,” said House Investments Chief Investment Officer Matt Gadus. “The development is a key component in the revitalization of the Jacobsville area of Evansville by providing additional housing options that currently do not exist in the area and providing access to fresh food in an area which is currently designated a ‘food desert.’ In addition, the Forge on Main provides an opportunity for residents to live, work, and play in the neighborhood. House Investments is committed to providing impactful, workforce housing projects which benefit the overall community.”
The Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana, whose goal is to help more intentionally encourage the transformation of OZ neighborhoods into vibrant places for residents and businesses, introduced the project to Woodforest CEI Boulos Opportunity Fund.
“The Opportunity Investment Consortium continues to support innovative and impactful projects, such as the Forge on Main within the 156 Opportunity Zones throughout Indiana,” said Samantha L. Spergel, Director of Real Estate Strategic Initiatives and Engagement for Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and member of the Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana. “The use of a Qualified Opportunity Fund and the public-private partnerships developed through the funds use are critical to the long-term success of this transformational project. Continuing to build off the tremendous efforts of the Evansville Promise Zone, the combination of the mixed-income housing and grocery will enhance equitable opportunities within the community.”
The Opportunity Zones program is a community investment tool established by Congress in 2017 to encourage long-term investments in communities with low incomes. Opportunity Zones are low-income census tracts nominated by governors and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
About the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund
The Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund is an innovative $22 million real estate investment fund targeting projects within federally designated Opportunity Zones. The fund is managed by CEI-Boulos Capital Management, LLC, a joint-venture between Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), one of the nation’s leading community development financial institutions, and The Boulos Company, one of New England’s most successful integrated commercial real estate firms with broad experience in capital markets and real estate development.
The fund’s sole investor is Woodforest National Bank®, a privately owned national bank headquartered in The Woodlands, TX, that currently operates over 760 branches in 17 states proudly celebrating over 40 years in banking.
The fund invests in projects that have positive social and environmental impact and is intentional in ensuring that all investments foster community engagement and promote social equity. The fund’s Social Impact Advisory Board provides input related to the impacts of proposed investments by using metrics aligned with the goals of the Community Reinvestment Act and the “Opportunity Zone Reporting Framework” developed by the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, the Beeck Center at Georgetown University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The fund was recognized by Forbes and the Sorenson Impact Center as one of “The Forbes OZ 20: Top Opportunity Zone Catalysts” and won a 2020 BAI Global Innovation Award in the Societal and Community Impact Innovation category.
About House Investments
Since 1978, House Investments has helped investors, property owners, and residents thrive by funding, developing, and managing impactful properties. With intentionality and integrity, House Investments steward investments in real estate that create value for its clients and their communities.
Since its inception, House Investments has raised over $500 million of equity from over 3,000 investors including Fortune 500 corporations, financial institutions, endowments, foundations, and high net worth individuals. The equity raised has been used to acquire and finance properties with original values in excess of $2.2 billion. In addition, in its history, House Investments has owned, developed, managed, or overseen over 21,000 residential units.