Public/private partnership will bring 200 affordable rental units to Bentonville by late 2025

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,534 views 

Excellerate Housing, a subsidiary of Rogers-based Excellerate Foundation, unveiled plans Thursday (Nov. 30) for a new affordable rental development named McAuley Place in Bentonville.

The initiative, a result of a public/private partnership involving Excellerate Housing, affordable housing developer Strategic Realty in Van Buren, and Mercy Health Northwest Arkansas Communities, aims to address the affordable housing crisis in the region.

The housing development is set to be completed by the end of 2025.

“Nowhere is the affordable housing crisis more prevalent in the region than in Bentonville”, said Jeff Webster, president and CEO of Excellerate Foundation. “The people who are the core of Bentonville — the public servants, the retail workers, the restaurant staff, paramedical professionals, and more — can’t afford to live in the city that they serve. We can’t turn our backs on the people who help make Bentonville the amazing place that it is.”

The site is 11.4 acres at the corner of SW I Street and SW 41st Street near the Bentonville Community Center. A foundation news release highlighted multiple amenities within walking distance, including schools, grocery stores and a Mercy medical clinic.

According to county records, a Mercy affiliate sold the land to Excellerate Foundation in September 2022 for $1.32 million ($2.65 per square foot). The foundation donated it to the project.

“Giving back to the community we serve is a priority,” said Scott Cooper, regional physician executive for Mercy Health Northwest Arkansas Communities. “It’s built into our DNA ever since the founding of Mercy Health by the Sisters of Mercy. In fact, Sister Lisa Atkins was the main driver for this project and suggested the name ‘McAuley Place’ in honor of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy.”

McAuley Place will offer approximately 200 rental units for families making between 30% and 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) — $28,000 to $55,000 annually for a family of four in 2023. The development, part of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, will feature one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with rents projected to be between $450 and $800 per month.

“Too many hardworking people in Bentonville have to spend greater than 30% of their household income on rent,” said Jim Petty, president of Strategic Realty, the developer of McAuley Place. “The number of ‘rent burdened’ households in Bentonville has doubled in the past decade, with more and more of them having to choose between paying rent or paying for food or transportation or medical bills. That’s a choice no family should have to make.”

In its first phase, McAuley Place is expected to provide substantial rental savings for residents, totaling an estimated $21 million over 35 years. Despite the Bentonville City Council’s decision not to join the coalition, the development is projected to have a significant economic impact on the city. Through a combination of federal and state funding, land donation and other philanthropic support, the coalition has secured $8.8 million in funding for Phase I.

“While the Bentonville City Council voted against joining the coalition at this time, we still believe their participation is integral to the long-term growth and sustainability of affordable housing in Bentonville, as well as the resulting benefits for Bentonville workers and the city as a whole,” Webster said.

Excellerate Foundation announced details of its housing subsidiary earlier this year.