With Merger, Enterprise Expands Financing for “Workforce” Housing, Commercial

Posted by Miriam Axel-Lute on March 22, 2012

Enterprise Community Investment, the for-profit financing subsidiary of Enterprise Community Partners, has merged with Bellwether Real Estate Capital to form Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital LLC. Enterprise says the merger is consistent with the direction offered by its long-term visioning exercise, and is designed to "diversify its revenue streams and augment its LIHTC syndication business revenues."

The new entity will be headquartered in Cleveland, with originators in 13 cities nationwide. The merger moves Enterprise into the commercial real estate sector, and into more market-rate housing. However, this is an expansion, not a shift in focus, says Enterprise. VP Jon Searles told Shelterforce:

Nothing will change for current Bellwether or Enterprise customers. While Enterprise will continue to focus on expanding the supply of affordable and moderate-income rental housing where it is needed most, they will expand their Freddie Mac business into workforce/market-rate housing. CDCs can now access financing across the affordable and market-rate sector as well as the commercial mortgage banking sector to include office, industrial and retail.

Enterprise defines "workforce housing" as affordable up to 120 percent of area median income and located near job centers. "This will allow Enterprise to create more diverse, sustainable communities that offer mixed-income housing and jobs that come with financing and developing commercial mortgage banking properties such as office and retail," said Searles. 

This is already a strength of Bellwether's, he adds: Out of the 51 multifamily deals closed by Bellwether in 2011, 50 of them were for financing “workforce” housing.

Lamar Seats (pictured), currently SVP of Enterprise's Multifamily Mortgage Finance business will serve as CEO of Bellwether Enterprise, and Ned Huffman of Bellwether will serve as president. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.



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Miriam Axel-Lute is editor of Shelterforce and associate director of the National Housing Institute. Her email is miriam at nhi dot org.

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