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$17M, low-income apartment complex in Northeast El Paso latest part of public housing remake

Vic Kolenc
El Paso Times

Construction has started on a 110-unit, low-income apartment complex in Northeast El Paso – the latest piece in a years-long, $1 billion-plus program to remake El Paso’s public housing.

The $17 million Patriot Place apartment complex is being built by the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso. It’s mostly financed with federal tax credits sold to RBC Capital Markets, a Canadian investment bank that sells tax credits to investors. Tax credits are used to decrease investors' tax bills.

Rising prices of lumber and other building materials increased the project cost, said Gerald Cichon, the Housing Authority chief executive officer. Material prices for the project are now locked in, he said.

The complex, expected to be completed in 2022, is at Diana Drive and Kenworthy Street, near Sue Young Park and El Paso Community College’s Northeast Campus. It's also near the city’s new, Camp Cohen Water Park, where the Cohen baseball stadium once stood.

A rendering of the 110-unit Patriot Place low-income apartment complex being built by the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso at Diana Drive and Kenworthy Street in Northeast El Paso.

The vacant site, owned by the Housing Authority for about two years, was chosen for the project because of its proximity to the park, college campus, grocery stores, and a Sun Metro transit center, located a few blocks away on Dyer Street, Cichon said.

The 60-acre site has 17 acres of developable land, he said. The rest of the acreage is used for water retention, he said.

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The apartment complex is being built by Capstone Building Corp., a Birmingham, Alabama-based general contractor specializing in apartments construction. It was hired by Pennrose Properties, a Philadelphia development company that’s developing the project as a partner with the Housing Authority.

The complex, with two-story, wood-framed buildings, will have 56 one-bedroom, 38 two-bedroom, and 16 three-bedroom apartments, according to Capstone information.

This will be the first of two Housing Authority Projects to be developed by Pennrose, which specializes in developing low-income housing. It also will help develop the now-closed Roosevelt housing complex near Hondo Pass Drive, which will be rebuilt later and renamed Sun Pointe, Cichon said.

Capstone Building Corp., has started construction of the El Paso  Housing Authority's 110-unit Patriot Place, low-income apartments at Diana Drive and Kenworthy Street in Northeast El Paso.

Patriot Place is another part of the Housing Authority’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program, or RAD, through which 60 apartment complexes have been completed in the last six years at a cost of $1.3 billion.

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Even with additional complexes built, or rebuilt in recent years, El Paso still has a shortage of low-income housing, Cichon said.

“There’s a massive demand for affordable housing in our region,” Cichon said.

The Housing Authority, which houses about 40,000 people, has a list of about 8,000 people waiting for one of its 6,500 apartments, or one of 7,000 homes under its rent voucher program, he said.

A tenants’ waiting list for Patriot Place will probably begin in late summer, Cichon said.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; on Twitter.