This article originally appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel on Feb. 16, 2015.Alvin Nance, the 14-year CEO of KCDC, is joining Lawler Wood Housing Partners as CEO of its development and property management operating divisions effective April 1, the organizations announced Monday.
As part of the transition, Phil Lawson, Lawler Wood Housing’s president and CEO, will become the company’s chairman and continue to oversee the company’s finance, tax, legal, human resources and other administrative functions.
Knoxville’s Community Development Corp. serves as the city’s public housing authority and redevelopment agency. During Nance’s tenure, KCDC’s projects included the HOPE VI project in Mechanicsville, the Lonsdale redevelopment and the ongoing work in the Five Points community of East Knoxville. KCDC also managed Market Square’s redevelopment.
Nance, 57, said the move marks a new challenge in his career as Lawler Wood Housing is a larger organization that manages more than 8,000 public units in 11 states.
He also noted the move bolsters his resume and gives him flexibility should he pursue a run for mayor ? after Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, whom he endorses for a second term, completes her service.
“Running for mayor has crossed my mind on more than one occasion, and if that is still something I want to pursue after Mayor Rogero gets her next term, it really strengthens that position for me,” said Nance, who was a banker for 20 years before joining KCDC.
Nance is the second KCDC executive to join Lawler Wood Housing in recent months. Jordana Nelson, the agency’s general counsel, took the same role at Lawler Wood Housing in November.
In August, KCDC partnered with Lawler Wood Housing and another investor to buy the 300-unit Townview Towers, at Summit Hill Drive and E. Hill Avenue, for $3.3 million ? a 40 percent premium on the price that an out-of-town investment group paid in 2011.
Nance said Monday that KCDC was initially interested in buying the property because complaints to the out-of-state syndicate about living conditions there, including crime, were falling on “deaf ears.” Jerry Daves, president of Wood Properties, who had a small ownership interest in the syndicate.
“We got into this deal with absolutely zero dollars,” Nance said. “If this property ever sells again then KCDC gets the first right of refusal. We got in that deal because we want to be able to have some control of that property in the future. We want to make sure it’s not going to be a negative property for the city of Knoxville and downtown.”
Nance said Lawler Wood’s planned $10.5 million renovation of the complex, plus the addition of security and case managers, will help the property become an asset versus a liability.
The two organizations have worked closely on low-income housing issues, he noted, because they are the two largest providers of affordable housing for the city of Knoxville and Knox County.
“I think in the world we operate within there are a lot of commonalities because we get our funding from the same organization,” Nance said, noting many for-profit affordable housing developers operate across the country.
KCDC and Lawler Wood receive funding, however, from two different divisions of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “There has not been any co-mingling of funds between us and there has not been co-mingling of operations between us,” Nance said.
Oversight of KCDC is provided by a board of commissioners that is appointed by the Knoxville mayor.
David Hutchens, chairman of KCDC, said in a statement Monday that the board will select Nance’s successor, and finalize a leadership transition plan that will be discussed and approved at its March 26 meeting.
He noted that the KCDC’s top three executives have extensive experience. “Their leadership will ensure a smooth transition to a new executive director,” he said.
Nance is a national and state leader on affordable housing issues, serving as chairman of the Tennessee Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authorities’ legislative committee and in leadership roles for the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. He also served two terms on the board of directors and was vice chairman of the Tennessee Housing Development Authority.
“Alvin has many years of experience in the affordable housing industry and has established himself as a well-known and highly respected individual in this field,” said Lawler Wood Housing’s Lawson in a statement. “He understands our business and has a track record as a successful leader and strategic planner. Additionally, his background includes extensive involvement with both the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, government agencies that administer the housing programs in which we work.”
Nance has also been active in the Knoxville business and philanthropic communities, having served on the boards and in leadership capacities of Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, First Tennessee Bank, Covenant Health, Knoxville Area Urban League, Knox County Industrial Development Board, Project GRAD, Knoxville Habitat for Humanity, Dogwood Arts Festival, Maryville College and YMCA.