Yowell Aaron J

Aaron J. Yowell

Aaron Yowell represents private, public and nonprofit developers of multifamily housing, as well as private equity investors and family offices, with a particular focus on projects with unconventional financing structures. Aaron works regularly with tax incentive programs, including 421-a (a/k/a Affordable New York) and Article XI; inclusionary housing; and has been a leader of the firm’s opportunity zones working group. He advises clients in all aspects of project development, new construction, rehabilitation, and operation, including acquisitions, dispositions, regulatory matters, public and private financings, joint ventures and investments.

Aaron has been the lead counsel in several high profile recent affordable housing transactions, including the acquisition and refinancing of Spring Creek Towers, the largest HUD-subsidized property in the country.

In his capacity as Chief Innovation Officer, Aaron is responsible for innovation across all aspects of the firm’s activities.

What do you focus on?

Aligning interests

Constructing projects with affordable housing and repositioning and preserving existing housing requires marshaling diverse sets of government agencies and debt and equity partners and, increasingly, optimizing within a complex set of programs and incentives. I guide developers and investors 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 the rehabilitation of a large New York City property built on a long-term ground lease from a governmental agency. The project was financed with taxable bond proceeds and conventional private equity. Getting to closing required harmonizing the interests of the bond issuer and a private equity investor new to affordable housing with the interest of our client.

Project management and legal tech

Up-to-the-minute deal awareness is essential to my work and I rely on strong project management to keep all the members of our team, including our clients, in the loop. Affordable housing transactions, which often involve upwards of five or six different sources of debt financing, tax credit equity, and state and local tax exemptions, present a unique opportunity to create value through efficiency. As Chief Innovation Officer, I am leading our pilots of new ways we can reduce friction for our clients. Our innovation initiatives are not only focused on increasing transactional efficiency but also on helping clients identify opportunity for existing assets and unlock new lines of business.

Analysis and sustainability

I am proud to be on the board of the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy, which conducts 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?

New York City and State governments continue to try to outdo each other in housing production, increasingly insisting upon a substantial mix of incomes and other programmatic priorities. At the same time, with the tax exempt bond volume cap constrained, opportunities abound for less conventional structure and more creative players. The New York City Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program and its interplay with Affordable New York (a/k/a 421-a) is just one area where possibilities for both traditional affordable housing developers, market-rate developers and players new to the affordable market are expanding in both size and scope.

The opportunity zone incentive presents an intriguing opportunity for real estate developers. It will be interesting to see how state and local governments find ways to piggyback on the incentive.

Through our legal technology initiatives, we continue to improve our efficiency and productivity, reduce transactional pain points and find new areas where we can help our clients. The last several years have seen tremendous growth in this area. Not only do I expect that growth to continue, I expect the industry will be fundamentally transformed in the coming years.


  • “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)

Select Presentations

  • “State Rent Regulation Changes: What Affordable Housing Developers Need to Know,” NYHC Housing Marketing & Rent Law Policy Symposium, New York, NY, September 10, 2019
  • “New Sources of Equity Workshop,” 20th Annual New York State Affordable Housing Conference, New York, NY, May 15, 2019
  • “Private Equity in Affordable Housing,” Institute for Responsible Housing Preservation with Joshua Plattner, Jonathan Rose Companies; Lisa Davis, PGIM; Louis Harrison, Belveron Real Estate Partners; Rick Gropper, Camber Property Group; and Kim Darga, New York City Housing Preservation and Development, January 2019 (moderator)
  • “How Will Opportunity Zones Impact Land Use and Development?” ULI New York Real Estate Outlook 2019, January 2019 (panelist)
  • “Strategies to Maximize Opportunity Zone Investments,” Capalino + Company with Morgan Harper, LISC; Michael Lohr, Goldman Sachs; Richard Roberts, Red Stone Equity Partners; and Adam Roman, Stellar Management, New York, NY, November 2018
  • “Federal Housing Program Changes & their Impact on States,” NYSAFAH Upstate, September 2018 (with Richard Roberts, Red Stone Equity Partners; Linda Manley, New York State Homes and Community Renewal; and Olivia Barrow, Enterprise Community Partners)
  • “State Funding Update,” NYSAFAH Upstate, September 2016 (with Marian  Zucker, HFA; David Walsh, JPMorgan Chase; Sue McCann, TCB and Victor Sostar, First Sterling)
  • “Affordable Housing’s Getting Creative,” Bisnow, September 2016 (with Spencer Orkus, L+M Development, Eli Weiss, Joy Construction and Shwetha Subramanian, Forest City Ratner)
  • “Developing Inclusionary Housing without 421a: Alternative Tax-Exemption Tools,” Nixon Peabody LLP, July 2016 (with Vicki Been, HPD Commissioner and Chuck Brass, Forsyth Street Advisors)
  • “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)

Medford nonprofit, Jericho developer open housing for vets

Long Island Business News | November 21, 2019

This story highlights Nixon Peabody’s work on a deal to open a 135-unit supportive and affordable housing development for homeless veterans and low-income families in Brooklyn. Partner Aaron Yowell, partner-elect Dana Roper, and strategic policy advisor Deborah VanAmerongen, all of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate Group in New York City, were part of the deal team. Aaron is quoted in the article.

NYC Real Estate Week in Review

Law360 | July 16, 2019

This roundup of high-profile activity in the real estate market features partner Aaron Yowell and associate Julia Casteleiro, both of the Affordable Housing and Real Estate practice group in New York City, who provided counsel to Camber Property Group LLC in its $76.25 million purchase of a building and air rights in the Bronx.

Getting off the ground

Long Island Business News | March 18, 2019

New York Affordable Housing partner and Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Yowell is quoted in this article, discussing the groundbreaking of Concern for Independent Living’s $25 million, 77-unit affordable housing development in Port Jefferson Station.

Out of the comfort zone: Newbies take to opportunity zones

Commercial Observer | January 21, 2019

New York City Affordable Housing & Real Estate partner Aaron Yowell is quoted extensively in this story on how potential investors in opportunity zones are navigating this complex new development vehicle.

NYC real estate week in review

Law360 | November 04, 2018

New York City Affordable Housing and Real Estate partner Aaron Yowell and associate Jessica Valentino are mentioned for their representation of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement in its $29.1 million purchase of two Manhattan apartment buildings.

Forming opportunity funds: Expecting startups by year-end

TaxCredit Advisor | June 30, 2018

Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Yowell, also a New York City Affordable Housing and Real Estate partner, is quoted in this article discussing the pace of progress on forming opportunity funds. Click here to read the full article: “Forming opportunity funds: Expecting startups by year-end

Law360 names attorneys who moved up the firm ranks in Q1

Law360 | May 06, 2018

In this roundup of promotions to partner and firm management positions, 14 attorneys from Nixon Peabody are highlighted. The 11 attorneys promoted to partner are Ellie Altshuler, Mark Beaudoin, Erik Birkeneder, Hannah Bornstein, Chris Browning, Barry Carrigan, Keri McWilliams, Matt Mullen, Steven Richard, Charles Tamuleviz and Alison Torbitt. In addition, Kenneth C. Lind was promoted to leader of the firms’ public finance practice group, Justin Thompson was promoted to office managing partner in LA, and Aaron Yowell was promoted to chief innovation officer.

Blank Rome, Nixon Peabody steer $53M loan for Bronx apartments

Law360 | November 27, 2017

New York City affordable housing partner Aaron Yowell counseled Park Management Inc. in its $53 million acquisition of a seven-floor apartment building in the Bronx serving lower-income renters.


Aaron J. Yowell

Chief Innovation Officer

New York

Phone: 212-940-3161

Fax: 866-741-0715

New York University School of Law, J.D., Order of the Coif; Environmental Law Journal

Wesleyan University, B.A.

New York

Aaron Yowell is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association and serves as board president of GreenHomeNYC, Inc. He is a non-resident fellow for the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy and is a graduate of the New York Center for Environmental Law and Leadership Institute.

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