Award-Winning Preservation: Innovative Financing and Public-Private Partnership Yields Preservation Success

Posted on: January 21st, 2011 by Guest Writer

Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation celebrates the best of preservation by presenting National Preservation Awards to individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate excellence in historic preservation. This is the latest in a series of posts highlighting 2010′s winners.

Written by Matthew S. Greer

Our firm, Carlisle Development Group, had the honor of receiving a 2010 National Preservation Award for the rehabilitation of the 1923 Royalton Hotel in downtown Miami, Florida. Part of our mission is to help our partners leverage community assets as a means of achieving preservation, sustainability, neighborhood revitalization, and social and economic development goals. While the renovation of the Royalton was unquestionably a monumental task involving complicated financing and a full historic rehabilitation, it was also a true public-private partnership, with extraordinary support provided at the city, county, state, and federal levels.  Furthermore, this project exemplifies the substantive impact tax credits and other creative financing tools offer in achieving long-term social benefits and urban regeneration.

The Royalton hotel is an 87-year-old building located in the heart of Miami’s Downtown Central Business District and designated Historic District at 131 SE First Street.  In its heyday, the hotel was a prestigious landmark in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. With the exodus from the city to the suburbs, which began in the 1950s, many buildings in the Central Business District were left vacant, and the Royalton, too, was left to fall apart.  The disappearance of a vibrant business district also resulted in the steady increase of chronically homeless individuals living on the streets of downtown Miami.

In 2004, Carrfour Supportive Housing, a not-for-profit dedicated to developing permanent supportive housing for the homeless, identified the Royalton as a possible location for its next supportive housing project. Lacking the financial capacity to acquire the building, Carrfour subsequently approached us to not only secure the necessary funding but also to oversee the more complex development activities that were outside of their core expertise.

By the time we completed construction in 2008, we had transformed the former hotel into 100 single-room-occupancy units for the formerly homeless, while providing shared public facilities including a community center, library, and computer lab.  In the process, we were able to restore the Royalton to its original grandeur, incorporating carefully recreated period-accurate windows, doors, floors, and light fixtures among other efforts.

The only way we were able to establish the Royalton as an economically-viable project was by utilizing creative and complex deal structuring that took advantage of six different funding sources.  Funding for the $18.5 million project included $9,673,000 in 9% Housing Credits; $3,000,000 through a Florida Housing State Apartment Incentive Loan; $2,250,000 through a Miami-Dade County SURTAX Loan; $2,330,000 in HOME Loans by the County/City; and $750,000 provided through a Homeless Housing Assistance Grant.

The project has remained a success even after the physical rehabilitation. A building that used to be a run-down hotel and the last step before homelessness is now the first step after homelessness; our partner, Carrfour, who oversees the management, has a wait list of formerly homeless individuals wanting to rent; and we also have an award-winning, beautiful building that has helped contribute to the redevelopment of a historic downtown district while also serving community needs.  As a result, we are talking to several other cities about similar structures and partnerships that not only help to preserve historic character but that also seek to benefit a full spectrum of citizens and neighbors.

The Royalton, Miami, Florida
Award Type: Honor Award

Matthew S. Greer is chief executive officer of Carlisle Development Group, one of the nation’s largest tax credit developers.  In 2010, he was named Multi-Housing News’ Executive of the Year, honored in part for his social entrepreneurship philosophy and commitment to long-term sustainability.

Do you know of a deserving individual, organization, agency, or project? We are now accepting nominations for the 2011 National Preservation Awards. Learn more »

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