Scottsdale Developer Investing $325M to Build Workforce Housing in Metro Phoenix

Article originally posted on Phoenix Business Journal on January 9, 2020

Scottsdale-based Greenlight Communities LLC is investing $325 million to build apartment communities in a move that company officials say will help address housing affordability in metro Phoenix.

The company has four projects under construction and is in escrow to buy land to build another six around the Valley — an effort that will deliver 2,500 units during the next two years.

Housing affordability is a national and local problem, said Patricia Watts, co-founder and partner of Greenlight Communities. In Phoenix, two out of every four renters are rent burdened, which means renters can afford to pay their monthly rent but have little or no money left over, she said.

One in four are severely rent burdened in Phoenix, she said, which means renters have to decide whether they can buy food or pay their rent.

That’s why Watts and her partners Rob Lyles and Dan Richards are focusing on building what they call “attainable housing,” which is essentially the same thing as workforce housing, targeting the multitude of middle-class workers having a difficult time making ends meet as rents and home prices soar.

“There is still a big need for attainable rental housing both in the Valley and across the U.S.,” Watts said.

Before embarking on this effort, Watts, Lyles and Richards focused on buying and renovating older apartment communities — adding bold splashes of color — since 2010. They branded them under the Cabana name, breathing new life into deteriorating properties.

“Everybody copied us,” Watts said. “We were the most copied brand. All these apartments with colors all came from our ideas in 2010. We really changed the landscape.”

Previously operating as Deco Communities and Starlight Communities, the three business partners have sold the entire portfolio and are embarking on new construction using the Cabana brand under the Greenlight Communities banner.

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