Aaron Yowell represents private, public, and nonprofit developers of multifamily and transitional 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 credits (including state and federal low-income housing and historic tax credits), real property tax incentive programs (including 421-a (a/k/a Affordable New York), Article XI, and 420-a), New York City Housing Authority PACT (Permanent Affordability Commitment Together) preservation, the Mitchell Lama Housing Program, and inclusionary housing. 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 often serves as lead counsel in several high-profile affordable housing transactions. Past transactions include the acquisition and refinancing of Spring Creek Towers, the largest HUD-subsidized property in the country, and several large affordable housing portfolio recapitalizations and dispositions. Aaron works on transactions nationwide, with projects located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California.
In his capacity as Chief Innovation Officer, Aaron is responsible for innovation across all aspects of the firm’s activities. He uses leading-edge collaboration and other technology to deliver efficient and high-quality legal services, as well as working with clients on new approaches to building much-needed housing.
Building new affordable housing and preserving housing requires marshaling diverse sets of government agencies and debt and equity partners within an ever more complex set of programs and incentives. We guide developers and investors in building transactions on the foundation of our broad and deep experience. For example, we recently helped a for-profit developer and a nonprofit operator acquire and finance a hybrid supportive housing and transitional housing project. The project was financed with a mix of subsidy, credit tenant lease financing, a Freddie Mac loan, and brownfields equity. Getting to closing required us to harmonize the interests of each of these sources while protecting our clients’ core interests.
Up-to-the-minute deal awareness is essential. We rely on strong project management to update the members of our team and our clients. 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. During my time as Chief Innovation Officer, our team has developed several approaches that reduce friction for our clients. However, our innovation initiatives are not only focused on increasing transactional efficiency but also on helping clients identify opportunities for existing assets and unlock new lines of business. We work closely with our clients to develop new financing models for much-needed housing, including using new sources and regulatory approaches. We relish the opportunity to partner with our clients on their most challenging transactions.
I am proud to be on the advisory 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 sustainability resources for small- and medium-sized buildings in New York City.
The 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 structures and more creative players. For example, with the New York City Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program now orphaned by the lapsing of Affordable New York (a/k/a 421-a), we are going to have to find new ways to build housing. This presents opportunities for traditional affordable housing developers, market-rate developers, and players new to the affordable market to expand in both size and scope. At the same time, on a nationwide basis, portfolios from the first phase of LIHTC development will be reaching the end of their regulatory restrictions, and the developers of these portfolios will be looking to recapitalize and reposition. Developers, lenders, investors, and owners will have to adapt their approaches to accommodate this volume.
Our work in this area will not just be substantive. 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, with new tools becoming an essential part of our practice in a matter of months.
Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Yowell is quoted in this article, which discusses how generative artificial intelligence tools can produce poor results when they aren’t adequately grounded in the law. Aaron discusses that NP is currently in a “trust but verify” stage with the use of generative AI, and mentions how the firm is supporting lawyers in developing skills to effectively use these tools.
Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Yowell is quoted in this article, which discusses what law firms are doing to develop policies and training around the use of generative AI. Aaron explains how NP is training attorneys to independently verify the work of generative AI tools, noting that the firm would not use such tools to generate court filings.
Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Yowell is quoted in this article, which explores how AmLaw 100 firms are using artificial intelligence to make operations more efficient. Aaron discusses NP’s pilot of AI platform Harvey, which is intended to supplement the traditional process of lawyering. He also discusses how firms need to carefully consider how AI tools will factor into the pricing of services.
This article highlights NP for negotiating a 40-year real estate tax exemption with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development on behalf of client Clipper Realty Inc. for its 2,500-unit Flatbush Gardens apartment complex in Brooklyn. The article mentions partner and Chief Innovation Officer Aaron Yowell and counsel Abigail Patterson, both of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate practice and New York City office, for representing Clipper Realty in the deal.
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.
New York University School of Law, J.D., Order of the Coif; Environmental Law Journal
Wesleyan University, B.A.
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