The Heart and Soul of Affordable Housing in Boulder County, CO

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Founded in 1985, Thistle Community Housing (Thistle) is a non-profit organization that develops, manages, and preserves quality, permanently affordable rental and ownership homes for moderate and lower-income individuals and families in Boulder and the surrounding areas. Their properties offer comfortable, quality, affordable rental and ownership homes in family friendly communities with excellent locations close to parks, schools, restaurants, shopping, and public transportation. They have a portfolio of 574 multifamily rental units across 15 properties throughout Boulder and Longmont.

Paul D’Angelo joined Thistle as the CEO in 2021 after several years as the Community Development Program Director for the City of Asheville, NC, and other management positions in affordable housing in Wilmington, NC. We spoke with Paul about Thistle and Fairways Apartments, an affordable rental housing complex for which NeighborWorks Capital recently provided financial support and resources.

The Fairways Apartments Team

NeighborWorks Capital extended a $5,000,000 permanent loan to Thistle for Fairways Apartments, a LIHTC development consisting of 70 units that provide long-term affordability for individuals and families earning 30 – 50% of the Area Median Income. The property includes four three-story apartment buildings that were originally constructed in 1983 and renovated in 2008.

Fairways Apartments is located in the East Boulder neighborhood, which is central to the city’s broader growth plan to create a housing, commercial, and transportation corridor in the area. The complex offers quick access to grocery stores, parks, public transportation, and several retail stores and restaurants within walking distance. With high housing costs and low vacancy rates in the area, Fairways Apartments is a critical resource for affordable housing in this growing tech-focused area.

The loan extended by NeighborWorks Capital allowed Thistle to proactively refinance debt that was nearing its maturity and take advantage of significant savings with an interest rate below what was available in the standard market. Another attractive and beneficial feature of the loan was the flexibility to use funds as they were needed for additional replacement reserves and property repairs.

The extended term of the loan allows Thistle to be thoughtful about the best use of funds to repair and rehabilitate the property. They plan to paint the exteriors and make repairs and improvements to common-area infrastructure. They are also considering using the capital as a springboard to purchase the adjacent parcel of vacant land that is currently for sale to add between 36-64 affordable units to the complex.

Paul credits the loan with helping Thistle proactively refinance existing debt at an affordable rate and gain the flexibility and time needed to explore other tax credit opportunities. He sees this loan and Thistle’s overall partnership with NeighborWorks Capital as key contributors to Thistle’s increased ability to make strategic, intentional choices for the future.

"In a challenging development environment, NeighborWorks Capital makes our development process easier."

Thistle’s relationship with NeighborWorks Capital began in 2010, and Paul considers the organization to be more than just a lender, but also a strategic partner who is deeply invested in their mission and impact. He finds the NeighborWorks Capital lending process to be efficient, simple, and responsive, and he appreciates the friendly and supportive connection with the team. He credits a recent NeighborWorks America convening for re-connecting him with the NeighborWorks Capital team and providing a forum for generative discussions and solution-focused conversations so that these kinds of critical projects can come to fruition.

When asked about what is most important to him about Thistle’s relationship with NeighborWorks Capital, Paul says, “In a challenging development environment, NeighborWorks Capital makes our development process easier.”

The entrance to Fairways Apartments, an affordable rental housing complex in the East Boulder neighborhood

Thistle has a slate of exciting project possibilities on the horizon. They are looking at options to convert an existing hotel building into affordable rental housing, the possible expansion of Fairways Apartments, a new affordable development in nearby Longmont, and the expansion of their Resident Owned Communities program. Paul will continue to reach out to NeighborWorks Capital as a preferred partner for additional funding for these projects as they move forward.

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