SALT LAKE CITY, Feb, 2019 /Affordable Housing News/ Read Affordable Housing News here
Fully integrated real estate developer J. Fisher Companies develops commercial, residential and mixed-use developments in markets across the country. To date, the firm has delivered more than $1.2 billion in market-rate and affordable housing communities, and it continues to pursue opportunities in the affordable housing sector.
The J. Fisher umbrella includes several companies, including construction firm Strategic Builders, property management and consulting firm Olive West and senior housing and care facility developer WellQuest Living. There’s also JF Capital, a private equity real estate firm.
The comprehensive vertical integration of J. Fisher makes it possible for the company to tackle a wide variety of development opportunities. Although the firm has focused largely on market-rate developments, a significant share of its work is now on affordable housing.
Though it all, J. Fisher aims to deliver community-enhancing developments that provide value to people and diversify its ever-growing portfolio.
“From the company perspective, [affordable housing] has been a great way to add more of the mission-driven component to the company, which is something that’s important to all the partners here,” says Jake Wood, Development Partner overseeing affordable development at J. Fisher. “From the business side, it really does add a sort of hedge around the market-rate development, which is the core of the business. It’s a diversification platform for the company, as well as an opportunity to give back to the community.”
In moving ahead on affordable housing in Utah, J. Fisher has responded to increasing demand throughout the state. Creating affordable housing has become increasingly challenging as construction costs rise, market-rate rents become less affordable and single-family residences remain in short supply.
“We are very aware that there is a strong demand for housing in Utah, specifically right now and even across the nation. It’s very hard to keep up with it when costs have risen so much,” says Owen Fisher, CEO of J. Fisher. “[Rising costs and demand] are constricting the market a little, but it also gives us a great opportunity to come in and try to work with our subcontractors and development partners to offer a solution to the demand right now.”
Work is now underway on Moda Meadowbrook, a residential community in Salt Lake City. The $30.1 million development will feature 145 affordable housing units. The development will also add 8,000 square feet of commercial and retail storefront space.
Moda Meadowbrook is located near public transit, making it convenient for commuters traveling into downtown Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas.
“That has been one of our strategies. Most of our affordable housing developments are within a quarter mile of transit stations within the [Salt Lake] Valley,” Wood says. “That’s something that we have focused on with the Meadowbrook property. It was one of the identifiers we used to choose that site for this development.”
In completing the development, J. Fisher looks to leave a lasting and positive impact on the Winslow Park neighborhood, located about five miles south of downtown Salt Lake City. By providing affordable residential units and updated retail space, the neighborhood will have a renewed appeal.
“[The development is] going to have an impact in terms of the community and the people themselves,” says Wood. “But the physical presence of the building is also transformative to the neighborhood. We are redoing the entire streetscape around our property, putting in street trees with landscaping and a wide sidewalk for pedestrian traffic.”
The firm is also creating a path leading up to nearby transit stations and commercial spaces, enhancing walkability for future residents and their neighbors.
“This development is not only just about giving people a place to live, but also about making the whole neighborhood better,” Wood says. “It really has a ripple effect out into the neighborhood.”
A COMMUNITY ASSET
The community’s response to Moda Meadowbrook has been overwhelmingly positive, and J. Fisher has already purchased two acres of land across the street where it plans to build a second phase. Perhaps the most encouraging component for the firm’s team is to see its development partners really around it as it works to deliver new affordable housing to a market with pressing needs.
“Our philosophy as a company is to give back and to be able to provide opportunities for families in the workforce to be able to afford to live in a great city,” Fisher says. “Rendering is one thing, but what we get excited about and what we see now during the progression of the build is the excitement that exists around the development.”