The Excellerate Foundation of Springdale on Tuesday announced a $40 million affordable housing project is scheduled for northwest Arkansas.
Several local businesses, led by Arvest Bank of Bentonville and Signature Bank of Fayetteville, contributed $40 million in funding to the NWA Regional Fund, which will support the housing developments. The five complexes scheduled will add 345 rental units for low-income families that Excellerate said would be rented for rates nearly 50% below the current market.
The lower rents of an average of $450 a month could save families approximately $65 million in rent during the next 35 years, Excellerate said. The rents are locked in place and will only rise in correlation with inflation, said Excellerate CEO Jeff Webster.
“It is amazing to see so many people — from corporations, developers, city government, the faith community, and nonprofits — step up to support affordable housing solutions in response to the recent Walton Family Foundation study, ‘Our Housing Future,'" Webster said.
Webster said the complexes will be a variety of builds that include duplexes, apartments and single-family homes. The five developments will be:
- Cobblestone Farms, 90 units on Wedington Drive in west Fayetteville, built by Strategic Realty of Van Buren
- Patriot Park, 60 units adjacent to the VA Hospital in Fayetteville, built by Strategic Realty
- Mountain View, 50 units on South Main Street in Bentonville at the Centerton border, built by Strategic Realty
- Unnamed development, 75 units on Electric Avenue in Springdale, built by Matt Trulove of Trulove Construction and Will Gladden of Signature Bank; Gladden is the son of Signature Bank cofounder King Gladden.
- Unnamed development, 71 units on Cooper Drive in Springdale, built by RichSmith Management of North Little Rock
Webster said construction should begin soon on each of the developments. He expects all five to be ready for rental by December 2022.
“It’s a big deal,” Webster said. “Is it the answer? No. But it is part of the solution. I always say you can’t count to 10 unless you start with 1, 2, 3.”
The regional fund will be managed by WNC of Irvine, California. WNC is a real estate investment firm that specializes in affordable housing.
Webster said military veterans will receive rental priority at the Patriot Park complex.
“These developments will help a broad spectrum of people across our community," Webster said. “And they are more than just infrastructure. We are building affordable communities, where additional services and resources are available for residents, since housing instability is often an indicator of many other challenges for a household.”
In March 2021, the Northwest Arkansas Council announced it would launch a workforce housing center to address the affordable housing needs of the region in collaboration with the Walton Family Foundation. The foundation had released a report, “Our Housing Future,” in 2019 that painted a bleak picture for minimum wage workers finding affordable places to live.
The council said average home prices had risen 11% in 2020. Excellerate said many families in northwest Arkansas are paying up to 50% of their income just for housing.
“This collaboration is an example of the community-led solutions that will be essential to supporting the future housing needs of the region,” council CEO Nelson Peacock said. “The workforce housing center will build on these efforts by ensuring working families have access to high-quality, attainable housing connected to opportunities and experiences.”