October 14, 2020

Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund Closes Over $1.3 Million Opportunity Zone Equity Investment In Sharswood Ridge Project To Help Revitalize Philadelphia's Sharswood Neighborhood

THE WOODLANDS, Texas, October 14, 2020 / The Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund, a high-impact commercial real estate Opportunity Zone fund established in August 2019 by Woodforest National Bank® and CEI-Boulos Capital Management, recently closed on $1.33 million in equity capital, the first private equity committed to and invested in the Sharswood Ridge project to help revitalize the Sharswood neighborhood in Philadelphia. The project will build affordable and workforce housing and retail development, including a grocery store (Grocery Outlet), a bank branch, and an urgent care medical clinic, all of which the neighborhood desperately needs. The 234,000 square foot project is a key component of a comprehensive plan spearheaded by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) to rebuild the long-underinvested Sharswood community, a federally designated "food desert" and "severely distressed" area.

Pictured here is an image of Sharswood Commons prior to development, and artistic renderings of the Sharswood Ridge project at completion. The project will bring much needed affordable and workforce housing, a grocery store, an urgent care medical center, and more to Philadelphia's Sharswood neighborhood. Credit: Sharswood Partners, LLC.

Pictured here is an image of Sharswood Commons prior to development, and artistic renderings of the Sharswood Ridge project at completion. The project will bring much needed affordable and workforce housing, a grocery store, an urgent care medical center, and more to Philadelphia's Sharswood neighborhood. Credit: Sharswood Partners, LLC.

Sharswood Ridge is located at 2077 Ridge Avenue in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Sharswood. The project is expected to generate more than 200 construction jobs and create over 200 permanent jobs (70 percent are expected to be made available to local residents). Close to 80 percent of the 98 mixed housing units will be workforce housing (rents approximately 80-100 percent area median income) and the remaining 20 percent of units will be deeply affordable through project-based vouchers from the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Construction is anticipated to begin in October 2020.

This is the seventh investment made by the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund, a high-impact commercial real estate Opportunity Zone fund established in August 2019 by Woodforest National Bank® and CEI-Boulos Capital Management. The Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund's investment in the Sharswood Ridge project is catalytic and represents the first piece of private capital injected into the area's overall revitalization plan. The fund is the majority private equity investor in the approximately $50 million Sharswood Ridge project.

This project was made possible by many organizations who are committed to supporting the vision that residents of Sharswood have for their community. Numerous for-profit and nonprofit partners collaborated and created an innovative financial structure, bringing the project to life.

"CEI-Boulos Capital Management is committed to harnessing the Opportunity Zone incentive to serve its intended purpose – to truly benefit and revitalize underinvested communities, like Sharswood," said Sam Spencer, CEO and Managing Director, CEI-Boulos Capital Management. "The neighborhood was once an important national center of American jazz music and we are excited to play a role in its comeback. The investment in Sharswood Ridge is a great example of the fund's efforts to leverage private capital to help address the nation's renewed focus on racial and economic disparity."

"The Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund is the first private investor delivering much needed capital to community in Philadelphia, my home, that for too long has lacked the investment needed to realize its full potential. This investment is a strong example of how Opportunity Zone investments can make a real, positive impact. Woodforest is proud to work with our partners on this innovative transaction and be a part of the revitalization of Sharswood. We hope other investors will join us and bring even more capital to the community of Sharswood," said Doug Schaeffer, Executive Vice President, CRA Executive Director, Woodforest National Bank.

"This project will be transformational for this under-invested community in Philadelphia and we are thrilled to play a role in the creation of this incredible private-public partnership," said Drew Sigfridson, Managing Director and Partner, The Boulos Company. "Our fund has searched for opportunities around the country and the Sharswood development is a prime example of how Opportunity Zones work in building under-served communities."

In addition to the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund's Opportunity Zone equity investment, the project's extensive public-private financing includes New Markets Tax Credit financing; PHA loans; Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants from the state of Pennsylvania; and PIDC loans. Additional private investment was provided by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment's (HBSE) real estate and community enrichment arm, HBSE Real Estate, and a team of local investors who contributed through a unique community crowd-sourced fund, called Small Change.

The project developer, Sharswood Partners, LLC, is a partnership between Mosaic Development and SHIFT Capital, two Philadelphia-based community-focused developers committed to delivering social impact in underinvested urban neighborhoods.

"We are thrilled to be able to bring such significant essential services to a community has been marred by more than 30 years of disinvestment," said Greg Reaves, Principal, Mosaic Development Partners. "This unique partnership, combining public and private investment through the New Markets Tax Credit and Federal Opportunity Zone programs, could serve as a roadmap for other communities looking to revitalize communities entrenched in economic despair."

"Sharswood Ridge will be considered a national model for creative public-private partnerships. It is a testament to mission-aligned developers and investors working together with our government partners to deliver a project that the community needs and deserves," said Brian Murray, CEO, SHIFT Capital. "SHIFT is thankful to the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund for their early commitment to the project and to all of our partners who believe in the greater mission of this project and the investment in the Sharswood neighborhood."

"Diverse public, private and nonprofit partners wove together complementary types of capital to bring affordable housing, a grocery store and financial services to this historic community, which has struggled for several decades," said Betsy Biemann, CEO of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI). "CEI works daily to build an economy that lifts up everyone; we are proud to be one of the partners making this project a reality."

Kris Eimicke of the law firm of Pierce Atwood served as counsel to the Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund on the transaction.

About Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund

The Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund invests in high-impact commercial real estate projects in federally designated Opportunity Zones with the goal of ensuring that its investments benefit economically distressed communities in which the projects are located. The fund is an innovative collaboration between Woodforest National Bank, the fund's investor, a privately held, employee-owned bank with over 750 branches, and CEI-Boulos Capital Management, LLC, the fund's manager. CEI-Boulos Capital Management is a joint-venture of Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), one of the nation's most successful Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), with over 40 years of experience investing in communities with low-incomes, and The Boulos Company, an integrated commercial real estate firm with broad experience in capital markets and real estate development. In addition to Sharswood Ridge, the fund has closed on Opportunity Zones investments in both urban and rural areas such as Selma, Alabama; the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC; the Native American community of Pembroke, North Carolina; Evansville, Indiana; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Rochester, New York; and is working to close additional transactions. The fund's Social Impact Advisory Board provides input related to the social and environmental impacts of proposed investments by using metrics that align with goals of both CRA and the "Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework" developed by a partnership of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, the Beeck Center on Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The fund is intentional in ensuring that all investments foster community engagement and promote social equity.

The Woodforest CEI-Boulos Opportunity Fund was recognized by Forbes and the Sorenson Impact Center's "The Forbes OZ 20: Top Opportunity Zone Catalysts," as one of the 10 most innovative and impact focused Opportunity Zone funds in the country.

About Woodforest National Bank

Celebrating 40 years of community banking service, Woodforest National Bank has successfully stood among the strongest community banks in the nation, proudly offering outstanding customer service since 1980. Woodforest currently operates over 700 branches in 17 states across the United States and is an Outstanding CRA rated institution. For more information about Woodforest National Bank, please visit www.woodforest.com

About CEI-Boulos Capital Management

CEI-Boulos Capital Management was formed to manage Opportunity Zone funds focused on making investments in high-impact, community supported commercial real estate projects. The company is a joint venture between two long-standing and respected organizations, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) and The Boulos Company. The CEI-Boulos Capital Management team represents a diverse set of relevant and synergistic skills and perspectives related to its multiple objectives. The two entities are:

  • Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) Founded in 1977, CEI has provided loans, equity investments and tax credit financing to nearly 3,000 businesses and projects. CEI and its for-profit subsidiaries have extensive experience in regulatory compliance and fund management. More at www.ceimaine.org.
  • The Boulos Company. Founded in 1975, The Boulos Company and its family of companies has extensive experience in all aspects of commercial real estate, including development, construction, brokerage, property management, and capital markets. More at www.boulos.com.
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