Debbie Fisher has the Floor

What's Old is New Again

Debbie Fisher has the Floor

The year was 1977, President Jimmy Carter took to the airwaves to discuss the energy crisis, the first Star Wars film was released and I started working in the industry of real estate development with Jim Levy who would later start Newbury Management Company.  

His son, Frank Levy, is now our president and we still manage buildings developed decades ago by his father.  The expression, what’s old is new again comes to mind as we have been focusing on ensuring a significant number of affordable housing units are refurbished, older well-built Des Moines buildings are renovated, and anything we build new will stand the test of time.

Three recent projects include Plymouth Place, Elsie Mason Manor and Silver Oaks. Hopefully you saw an ad we purchased in the Des Moines Register thanking local, regional and national HUD leaders and staff members for helping us close two complicated affordable housing preservation deals for Plymouth Place and Elsie Mason Manor.  Thanks to historic renovation funding we are able to do extensive work on the 131 units at Plymouth where seniors earning up to 80% of median income are able to have nice, affordable living options. At Elsie Mason Manor, low income seniors and disabled will soon have the benefit of the newly renovated 150 units that include HUD rent subsidy contracts. Both buildings are 100% occupied.  (Ligutti Tower – often referred to as Elsie Mason Manor’s sister— is next on the list of properties thanks to a 2013 Tax Credit just awarded this spring. We’ll start working on Ligutti Tower in a few months.)   We are fortunate to work with wonderful non-profit owners in the Plymouth Place, Inc. Board of Directors and for the Elsie and Ligutti properties, Phoenix Family Ventures, Inc.

The third is a new construction project we are co-developing with Oakridge Neighborhood Services - Silver Oaks at the Homes of Oakridge. I see it from the Interstate every day as I’m driving to work. We will be providing 39 affordable units for people 55-plus, which include 16 two-bedroom and 23 one-bedroom units. The development is intended to be a natural transition for aging individuals and couples currently living in the Homes of Oakridge, freeing up units for families in the Oakridge apartments. A couple of special features will include underground parking and we are incorporating 3,000 square feet for four pre-school classrooms.

One of the many things I like about the work we do is that it is both philanthropic and pragmatic – helping people while doing so within a business model that allows for sustainable success.

As you can tell, I’m proud to work for Newbury, be a board member for the Polk County Housing Trust Fund and be part of providing Affordable Housing in our communities. I welcome your comments and ideas for how together we can do even more.