AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust commits to helping fund 500 housing units
By ED FINKELSTEIN
The Labor Movement has once again stepped up in a big way to help in the proposed massive revitalization efforts north of downtown St. Louis.
First it was the building trades’ commitment of ensuring some 37 percent of all work hours on the government’s nearly two billion dollar National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) will go to minorities and women, thus helping the City of St. Louis create the strongest bid for keeping NGA in St. Louis.
Now, the AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust (HIT) last week provided a letter of intent to St. Louis developer/visionary Paul McKee, CEO M. Property Services Inc. (better known for his McEagle Development Co.) to help fund a 500-unit housing development hugging the north and east boundaries of the NGA site as part of McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration project. It will include 300 market-rate rental apartments and lofts and 200 single-family homes.
Construction is expected to begin next year with completion in 2018.
LYNCHPIN FOR MAKING IT HAPPEN
HIT’s financial commitment provides a key lynchpin in getting McKee’s visionary proposal for 1,500 acres off the ground. Having the NGA as the anchor in the NorthSide project, (funded by the feds) and its 3,100 jobs will provide the incentive for other firms to locate here as well.
The 500 housing units to be financed by HIT will add an immediate housing component that is vital, providing a catalyst for further private investment.
In a positive harbinger of the future, HIT CEO Steve Coyle said HIT looks to be a “long-term investor in the NorthSide Regeneration District.
“Having invested nearly $600 million in successful St. Louis urban residential development over the past decade plus, HIT looks forward to being a long-term investor in the NorthSide Regeneration District. Later this year, HIT also plans to establish a parallel fund for investing in companion urban economic and community development ventures,” Coyle said.
“That's incredible news for our region’s union building tradesmen and women because of the long-term construction that will provide good union jobs for potentially decades,” said Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council.
He pointed out that in order to get HIT funding, the developer commits to building totally union.
HIT $$$ ARE UNION PENSION FUNDS
And what’s the source of HIT monies? Union pension funds!
St. Louis investments represent 8 percent of the total HIT commitments since 1987.
“Investing with HIT has been a great partnership,” said Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. “Our pension dollars help fund deals that refuel the local economy and deliver competitive returns.”
The little understood impact of the union pension fund investments, noted now retired St. Louis Construction Cooperative Board Executive Director (formerly PRIDE) Jim LaMantia, is in the fact that “(HIT) plowed pension funds back into our community to advance economic development at a time when credit was extremely tight.”
“We appreciate what the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust has done to finance projects in St. Louis,” said Pat White, president, St. Louis Labor Council. “These projects have had a big impact on our economy, creating good jobs for union workers and well-built housing for residents.”