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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New York University School of Law, J.D., Order of the Coif; Environmental Law Journal
Wesleyan University, B.A.
Aaron Yowell is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association and previously served 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.
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.
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