Ballard Spahr attorneys assisted in closing a multimillion-dollar transaction that has garnered The Bond Buyer's annual Deal of the Year Award for the Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority (PRHFA).

The PRHFA was selected from more than 60 nominations for the honor, which recognized its $384 million capital fund program subordinate bonds, issued on behalf of the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration (PRPHA) and used to help finance modernization of more than 4,000 public housing units.  

Ballard Spahr acted as legal adviser and counsel to the PRPHA and the Department of Housing of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in closing the complex transaction that included the PRHFA bond deal. The overall transaction was valued at more than $600 million.

Ballard Spahr's counsel was "central to the successful conclusion of this complex transaction," said Carlos G. Laboy-Diaz, administrator of the PRPHA. Complicating the transaction was the need to ensure that the bond sale immediately follow passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. In addition, Ballard attorneys had to address property-ownership issues peculiar to Puerto Rican law, as well as assist in obtaining numerous approvals from the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development.

Amy B. Resnick, editor in chief of The Bond Buyer, stated that the Puerto Rican bond deal was "this year’s example of the best that public finance can accomplish." In The Bond Buyer's December 4, 2008, article on the award, Ms. Resnick took note of the use of the new non-AMT housing bond program and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, along with the creation of construction jobs.

The deal marked the first four-percent low-income housing tax credit transaction and the first volume cap private activity housing bond issues in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  It was the largest single low-income housing tax credit transaction ever closed in the 22-year history of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program.  The PRPHA is using the bond proceeds, tax credits, and capital funds appropriated by Congress to make major improvements. Much of the commonwealth's public housing stock dates to the 1940s and 1950s, and outdated utility systems are commonplace. Accessibility is also an issue.

Baltimore-based partner Paul K. Casey led the Ballard team, including partners Wayne H. Hykan, Teri M. Guarnaccia, Linda B. Schakel, and Lila G. Shapiro-Cyr; of counsel Mark J. Maichel; associates Amy M. McClain and Michelle M. McGeogh; and paralegal Nicole K. Counts.