One cannot walk through the doors of the Northern Hotel in Fort Collins, Colorado without feeling a connection to its past, to the day in 1873 when it opened its doors as the Agricultural Hotel and welcomed travelers on the Colorado & Southern and Union Pacific railroads. As the City of Fort Collins transitioned to a center of commerce, so did the hotel, becoming the Commercial Hotel in 1893 and finally the Northern Hotel shortly after the turn of the 20th Century. The building received an art deco facelift in 1936, and during its heyday welcomed such notables as Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Wayne, Olivia de Havilland and Vincent Price.
Fast forward to the next century. Following a fire in 1975, the upper floors had been closed and hotel operations ceased, though commercial spaces on the ground floor remained with the bustling coffee shop continuing as “the place where anyone and everyone would meet…making downtown the place to be.” However, by the late 1990s the Northern was totally vacant.
Could there be an opportunity to restore a landmark, energize a downtown and provide affordable housing? The answer was easy for the partnership that formed between local nonprofit Funding Partners for Affordable Solutions and NDC Housing and Economic Development Corporation, though the task ahead would be far from easy. The partnership would grow, with the Fort Collins Housing Authority, Colorado State Historical Fund and US Bank coming on board, and the NDC Corporate Equity Fund providing Low Income Housing and Historic Rehab tax credit equity. The Northern’s doors reopened in November 2001, and 47 affordable residential units would become home to deserving seniors. Would there be another coffee shop? Most definitely, with none other than Starbuck’s becoming an anchor tenant.
The story of the Northern does not end there. As the end of the 15-year Compliance Period for the tax credit investment approached, the partners worked hard to configure the Northern’s (or NoHo’s, as it’s affectionately called) next life. Could tax credits again be utilized in a recapitalization of the project, and would there be a new partner to move the project forward? Happily, the answer to both was yes, and in December 2017, NDC Corporate Equity Fund IV (CEF was making its own history since its original Fund III investment!) entered into partnership with Hendricks Communities and its affiliate Terra Management, which has been managing the project since 2016. Total project cost will be $6.7 million; construction financing is being provided by US Bank, and permanent financing includes a $1.8 million Colorado Housing Finance Agency loan, $1.5 million of subordinate loans from the City of Fort Collins and Colorado DOH, and $2.3 million of tax credit equity. The 47 1- and 2-bedroom units, restricted to seniors at 40, 50 and 60 percent of AMI, will continue to provide much-needed affordable housing in the vibrant Ft. Collins Old Town Historic District.
Could the Northern Hotel story be any richer? Yes! NDC welcomed the former Executive Director of Funding Partners as an NDC employee, one particularly dedicated to the development of affordable housing. It’s hard to imagine a project and story more representative of NDC’s history and mission.