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Case Studies

Welcome Home! Bodman Helps Facilitate Ypsilanti’s First Housing Development in 50 Years

From Bodman’s earliest years, its attorneys have represented charitable organizations and the donors who support their work. Today, the Firm represents dozens of public charities in all aspects of their operations – helping them make a positive impact in our local communities and around the world.

In one recent project, Bodman’s Jennifer Oertel and Ralph McDowell assisted the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) in structuring its impact investment in the City of Ypsilanti’s newest housing development, Dorsey Estates, located at 220 North Park Street. Dorsey Estates is not just another new suburban subdivision, it’s the first new single-family housing development in Ypsilanti in more than 50 years.

The Dorsey Estates project will be transformational for Ypsilanti, providing a mixed-income, missing-middle neighborhood of 56 residences featuring a diverse mixture of cottages, duplexes, and townhomes. Half of the homes will be exclusively affordable housing, supporting families making 40-80% of the area’s median income. Deed restrictions will ensure that these select homes will remain permanently affordable for future homebuyers.

Dorsey Estates was conceived by Renovare Development, a woman-owned commercial real estate development company focused on projects in urban areas and rural main streets that meet community needs. In 2022, Renovare reached out to the AAACF for assistance in funding the project. The AAACF in turn looked to Bodman to assist in structuring the lending arrangement that would push Renovare over its funding goal and allow it to break ground on the project.

Properly structuring the financing was key to the project’s eventual success, and Bodman was uniquely positioned to guide AAACF through the process. As Michigan’s leading financial services law firm, loan structuring and financing are part of Bodman’s core specialties. McDowell stepped in to guide the AAACF in structuring over $1 million in pre- and post-development loans as well as analyzing real estate issues.

The AAACF was an early community foundation adopter of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) impact investing practice, which is a national leader in the impact investing space. In collaboration with the CMF, Oertel took the lead on advising the AAACF on common impact investment practices useful to this loan. Oertel is also the CMF’s Impact Investing Expert-in-Residence and provides impact investing assistance and resources to CMF members, as well as anyone seeking to make impact investments in our state.

“This was a particularly rewarding project to be involved with,” commented Oertel, who co-chairs Bodman’s Exempt Organizations and Impact Investing Group. “It was a true win-win, providing sorely needed housing options for Ypsilanti residents while helping the AAACF fulfill its mission and supporting the work of a woman-owned, socially conscious developer. It was a pleasure to work together to help them to achieve their common goal.”

About the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation:

In 1963, residents established the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) as a permanent source of community capital in Washtenaw County. The AAACF is considered as a charitable savings account for the community, with proceeds from funds distributed to support various nonprofits in Washtenaw County through grants and students through scholarships. Through a core team of staff, trustees and hundreds of volunteers, the foundation connects people, charitable causes and permanent capital for community impact.