Aaron Yowell represents private, public and nonprofit developers and real estate owners, with a particular focus on affordable housing developers. He advises these clients in all aspects of project development, rehabilitation, and operation, including acquisitions, dispositions, regulator matters, public and private financings, joint ventures and investments.
What do you focus on?
Constructing new affordable housing properties and repositioning existing ones is complicated and requires a marshaling diverse sets of government agencies and debt and equity partners. I guide developers and owners through these complexities, moving all parties toward a common goal. For example, I recently helped a joint venture between two private, for-profit developers acquire and finance a large New York City property developed on a long-term ground lease from a governmental agency. The project was financed with the taxable bond proceeds and conventional private equity. Getting this deal closed required reconciling the interests of the bond issuer, a private equity investor new to the investment class, as well as two joint venture partners.
Project management and legal tech
Up to the minute deal awareness is essential to my work and I rely on strong project management to deliver results. Affordable housing transactions, which often involve upwards of five or six different sources of debt financing, tax credit equity, state and local tax exemptions, present a unique opportunity for efficiency. I am constantly focused on ways we can reduce friction for our clients, creating more and better opportunities to leverage existing assets and unlock new lines of business. A big piece of this is the Code the Deal transactional law hackathon, which I spearheaded on behalf of the firm, along with our other innovation initiatives.
Analysis & Sustainability
I am a member of the Advisory Board of the Moelis Institute for Affordable Housing at NYU and a non-resident fellow at the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy, each of which conduct cutting edge research on urban development and affordable housing. In addition to affordable housing, sustainability and green building are very important to me. I was a founding board member of GreenHomeNYC, a nonprofit offering offers resources for small- and medium-sized buildings in New York City.
What do you see on the horizon?
Both New York City and State government are currently focused on accelerating affordable housing production. The New York City Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program is just one example of how the opportunities for both traditional affordable housing developers, market rate developers and players new to the affordable market are expanding in both size and scope.
- Building Environmentally Sustainable Communities: A Framework for Inclusion (What Works Collaborative 2010) (with Vicki Been, Mary Cunningham, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Adam Gordon, Margorie Turner and Ken Zimmerman)
- That’s Where We Print the Money: Trading Increased Density for Public Amenities, 15 NYU Envtl. LJ 493 (2007) reprinted in Zoning and Planning Handbook (Patricia E. Salkin ed., 2008)
- Tracking Building Energy Usage, The Cooperator (June 2008)
- Inclusionary Zoning for New York City: Predictions and Recommendations for Hudson Yards, Greenpoint-Williamsburg and Beyond, 14 NYU Wagner Rev. 1 (2007)
- “Beyond Tax Credits: Alternative Financing for Affordable Housing,” Nixon Peabody LLP, March 2016
- “Labor and Employment Issues in Affordable Housing,” Nixon Peabody LLP, November 2015
- “Low Income Housing Tax Credit Property Dispositions,” IPED, October 2015
- “Developing for ELI (Extremely Low Income) Tenants,” New York State Supportive Housing Conference, May 2015
- “Supportive Housing—Challenges and Opportunities,” IPED, March 2015
- “Negotiating Equity Documents,” Nixon Peabody LLP, November 2014
- “Better Buildings, Greener Pockets: HUD’s New Funding,” Institute for Responsible Housing Preservation, January 2014
- “Real Financing, Real Quick (Financing for People with Short Attention Spans),” Building Energy New York City, October 2013 (moderator)
- “Negotiating Confidentiality Agreements, Northwood Acquisitions,” January 2011
- “The Good Green Meme: Models of Citizen Engagement from the Streets of New York City,” GreenBuild 2009, Phoenix, AZ (with Gita Nandan, thread collective and Miquela Craytor, Sustainable South Bronx)