A year ago, the world looked very different. Still in the early days of the pandemic, our outlook was uncertain and the promises of vaccines were still many months away. At Dakota, we closed our office, began to work remotely, and took recommended precautions on our construction sites to ensure safety. We took action where we could but our industry was buzzing with fears of high vacancies, difficulty with collections and lease ups, and most of all concerns about the health and safety of residents.
Despite the hardships, fears, and challenges of the past year Dakota's Director of Finance and Asset Management, Mike LeBrun, reports that our stabilized portfolio maintained an average of 97% occupancy rate from March-December 2020 and our overall collections during the period was 98%. These numbers are comparable to a normal year, an incredible feat considering all the uncertainty we faced in 2020. In addition we were able to successfully lease up three properties without delays.
Columbus Commons in New Britain, CT opened in March of 2020 right as the pandemic hit and we were all scrambling to incorporate new procedures to safely and effectively perform lease ups remotely. Our property manager, Maloney Properties, quickly changed course to interview and process applicants 100% remotely using tools such as Zoom, DocuSign, telephone, etc., and developed a contactless method of delivering keys and staggering schedules for move-ins. Thanks to the efforts by Maloney and Dakota’s Asset Management Team Columbus Commons’ 80 units were fully leased up in just four months, which would be considered a success in normal times and extraordinary considering the obstacles they faced.
The lease up numbers were similar for the other two projects we completed during the last year. Lincoln Lofts in Lincoln, RI was completed in the fall of 2020 and its 45 units were fully leased in just two months. The 72 units at Oak Tree Village in Griswold, CT, completed in February of this year, were fully leased in just three months.
Residents Moving Into Columbus Commons - Right Before the Pandemic
Many of our residents were more vulnerable to job loss, health issues, and emotional and financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic. It was critically important to us that they not be overlooked. Our corporate mission is to Create Housing That Matters – ensuring our residents are supported and given the opportunity to thrive. In order to do that we team with several organizations that provide local support to the residents in our communities, including NeighborWorks in New Hampshire, Chrysalis Center in Connecticut, and Housing Assistance Corporation in Massachusetts.
NeighborWorks is based in southern New Hampshire and provides services to our residents at Kensington Woods, Bedford NH, and Pine Valley Lofts, Milford NH. Although NeighborWorks worked remotely during Covid, they actively reached out to residents via phone and through newsletters and flyers to provide assistance with obtaining unemployment benefits, rental assistance, subsidy information, and area resources for employment and food assistance.
They also gifted $100 Market Basket gift cards to families needing some extra assistance.
A few examples of the support our residents received:
  • Chris from Kensington Woods lost his job and his wife had to drop out of nursing school to be with the kids for remote learning. One of NeighborWorks service coordinators called her contact at Home Depot and Chris is now one of the Assistant Managers in their store. The family will begin working with NWSNH to eventually purchase a home.

  • Saicha from Pine Valley Lofts lost her job at a candle company. NeighborWorks connected her to a temp agency, helped her complete Rental Assistance and Unemployment applications, and gave her a Market Basket gift card to help with food assistance.

  • In May of 2020, Chrysalis Center in CT worked with Dakota and Maloney to provide an individual who had been homeless for the previous ten years with new, safe, and affordable housing at Columbus Commons in New Britain. “Mr. T” had slept in parks and occasionally he stayed in shelters. He now has a network to help support his success in his new apartment, including being in treatment for his substance abuse issues, seeing a therapist to address his mental health concerns, and he has a representative payee to manage his finances to ensure that his rent and other financial obligations are attended to. 
Pine Valley Lofts - Milford, NH
Kensington Woods - Bedford, NH
Moving forward, Maloney has enrolled in a pilot program called SHERA, which is a rental assistance program in Massachusetts to aid tenants that are behind in rent. SHERA will pay for rental arrearages for April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 for renters whose income is below 80% who experienced financial hardship due directly or indirectly to Covid. It will be launched over three phases starting with a pilot group of properties: Tenney Place I, Tenney Place II and Yarmouth Commons. 
When asked of any lessons learned from this past year Mike LeBrun said, “We learned how to communicate with our residents during a pandemic – I hope we never have to do it again! However, if there's one silver lining to the difficulties we experienced over the last 15 months, it's seeing the way our team came together to persevere with compassion, generosity and empathy.”
With projects underway in five different states – six under construction and four more breaking ground - it's going to be a busy summer for Team Dakota! Check out the following updates on Depot Village in Hanson, MA; Huntington Village in Newport News, VA and; Friars Court in Hudson, NH.
Dakota's Construction Team is making incredible progress on the first family-affordable housing development built in Hanson, MA! Scheduled to be completed this fall, this community will bring much-needed affordable housing to the area.
Located steps away from the MBTA commuter rail stop, Depot Village features 48 affordable rental units in a three-story garden style building. The development will consist of 12 one-bedroom apartments, 31 two-bedroom apartments and 5 three-bedroom apartments. Depot Village is one of eight Dakota communities currently under construction that is being built to Passive House standards, a performance-based certification that focuses on dramatic reduction of energy use for heating and cooling.
According to Dakota principal, Roberto Arista, “Depot Village will be the first family-affordable housing development in this area. We’re excited for the opportunity to provide much-needed, quality housing for an underserved population whose household income is typically between 60% and 100% of the median area income and the need for quality affordable housing is most pressing.”

Congrats to the project team for their success on this project:
Dakota - Steve Kominski, Evan Fink, Mark Pilotte, Eric Kuczarski , Wayne Smith, Mark Ventura, Matt Abraham, Melanie Watts, Julian Lesnik, Neev Evenhaim, and Alycia Quintiliani
Other Project Partners - Rob Schaefer from R.A Schaefer & D.M White; Dom Rinaldi from BSC Group; Isaac Baker from Resonant Energy; Kai Fast from Kaplan Thompson; Melissa Richmond & Yasmari Barros from Maloney Properties; Ken Viscarello & Greg Chakmakas from Sheehan Phinney; Claudius Zorokong, Patricia Marinilli, and Michael Clarke from Bank of America; Sean O'Neill from Blue Hub Capital; Michelle Vinciguerra from Mass Housing; Alice Wong from Mass Housing Partnership; Stephen Pantalone and Dan Tobyne from MA DHCD; and Virginia Costley and Bob Curran from the Town of Hanson
huntington village
With construction of Huntington Village in Newport News finishing up over the next several weeks, Dakota is cementing its presence in the Mid-Atlantic region. Located on a 4.9-acre site, this community will fill a void of new and desirable affordable housing in the area.
After experiencing several months of delays due to poor weather conditions our team is excited to be in the final stretch. Constructed within four 3-story garden style buildings, the community features 96 apartments that are ideally suited for families. Surrounded by a rail line to the east and steps from public transportation residents will have easy access to area shopping, entertainment, and amenities. The development will also feature a community building with shared spaces including a gathering area, fitness center, on-site laundry facilities and a playground for the children.
”Huntington Village is an important project for Dakota Partners as it represents our initial foray into Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic market,” said Dakota EVP of Development, Jim Baugh. “As our portfolio and geographic coverage grows, we remain grounded in our mission to create housing that matters for an underserved population.” 
Congrats to the project team for their success so far on this project:
Dakota - Eric Kuczarski, Alex Beaton, Roger Gutierrez, and Steave Marcelle
Other Project Partners - Hope Coleman Rutter and Sheila Stone at VHDA; Duane Mutti, Kevin Czekanski, Jennifer Crampton, Laura Clifford, Mark Lippi, Vinay Kaushik, and Brenda Durrett at Wells Fargo; Erik Hoffman and Paige Gentry at Klein Hornig LLP; Sandra Powell, Valerie Ellis, and Carl V. Williamson at Newport News RHA; Greg Deubler and Kevin Wood at Pennoni; Jim Dumminger, Mikel Griffin, and Palmer Ferguson at CJMW Architecture; Jay Brown at Commonwealth Catholic Charities; Marcus Clements, Diane Short, Cornealious Scott, John Card, and Janice Healy with the City of Newport News; Ryne Johnson at Astoria; and our property manager, The Lawson Companies
As the first family-affordable development built in Hudson, Friars Court will bring incredible value to the community by offering residents an affordable, sustainable, and inviting place to call home. Phase 1 is scheduled to be completed in late summer and Phase 2 in the Fall. In addition to the two residential buildings, there will also be a community building for all residents to use.
The development has been designed as a Certified Passive House project to ensure high-energy efficiency throughout the year. Implementing super insulation, airtight building envelope and heat-recovery ventilation systems reduces overall energy consumption and offers residents a virtually sound-proof home. One resident living in one of our other Passive House communities described his home as "feeling like living in a resort. My apartment is so quiet and peaceful. It's amazing!"
We’re honored to team up with Hudson on their first family-affordable development and are excited to deliver this project to the community in 2021.
Congrats to the project team on their hard work thus far and good luck in the final stretch:
Dakota - Eric Kuczarski, Jeremy Vieira, Steve Kominski, Mark Pilotte, John Dawson, Rick Rubera, and Alycia Quintiliani
Other Project Partners - Brian Groth and Elvis Dhima at Town of Hudson; Elnaz Najdmazhari, John Anton, Jim Menihane, Shaun Malone, Julie Jussif, David Sargent, Natasha Dubeand & Christine LaVallee at NHHFA; Christine Fasano at TD Bank; Peter Flynn at Boston Capital; Peter Hollands at Boston Private; Rob Charest & Alex Whitmore at Boston Financial Investment Management; Jesse Thompson, Richard Lo, Ben Bailey, Susan Brewer and Kai Fast at Kaplan Thompson Architects; Karl Dubay at Dubay Group
In the fall of 2020, Dakota completed Lincoln Lofts located in the Saylesville Historic District of Lincoln, RI. The adaptive reuse project required the restoration and conversion of the Sayles Company Mill Store House and Packing building. The original 42,000 SF mill building – which dates back to the late 1800s – was repurposed into a 45-unit apartment community.
Early in the project our team salvaged some timber from the original mill with the hopes of creating something special with it in the future. Last month, we rented space at Lowell Makes in Lowell, MA and collaborated with Jon Goplerud, a seasoned carpenter, to work with us on the design and construction of two large tables from the reclaimed timber. These tables will be the central focus in the café of our new office building. The café will be a space where employees can gather to eat, drink, socialize, and bond - making the table an essential feature!
Over the last few weeks our employees ventured out in three shifts to assist Jon with various aspects of the table construction, ensuring that this will truly be a “community table” from its very start. We can't wait to see how it looks in our new café this summer!
Jeremy Vieira Promoted to Development Director
Congratulations to Jeremy Vieira on his promotion to Development Director! Jeremy joined Dakota in September 2020 as a real estate development professional with more than a decade of financial modeling, analytics, and project management experience. He’s currently working on seven projects throughout New England: Friars Court I & II in Hudson, NH; Woodland Village I & II in Goffstown, NH; Stockbridge Landing in Scituate, MA; Woodland Cove III in Wareham, MA and Oak Tree Village in Griswold, CT. Jeremy holds a Master’s of Science degree in Real Estate Development from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Bridgewater State University.

Stephanie Marcus, VP of Acquisitions and Development, NY/MD Team
Stephanie is a seasoned real estate executive with over eighteen years of proven experience ranging from initiation to completion of construction for projects valued at over $500 million. In her role as Vice President of Acquisitions and Development, Stephanie is responsible for identifying viable project opportunities and growing Dakota’s portfolio of communities in the New York and Mid-Atlantic regions. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban and Public Policy Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo and earned a Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute.

Rob Cain, Development Director, NY/MD Team
Rob has been working in real estate for the past 11 years, overseeing all tasks associated with the development of property for residential use including site selection and control, feasibility analysis, securing local approvals and financing, loan closing, construction oversight and coordination with start-up operations. Prior to joining Dakota Partners, Rob had managed a pipeline of projects that included 917 units and over $263M in total project costs. Rob has a BA in Communications and a BS in Business from Alfred University where he played college football, and an MBA from the University of Rochester.

Becky Touchette, Executive Assistant
A detail-oriented and resourceful professional, Becky has 15 years of experience. In her role as Executive Assistant, she will work directly with Dakota Principals, Marc Daigle and Roberto Arista. Prior to joining Dakota, she worked at Choate Investment Advisors (a subsidiary of Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP in Boston) where she served as a Legal Assistant for five years before being promoted to Executive Assistant to the Managing Director and his team in 2017. 
If you would like to discuss land or acquisition opportunities with us, please contact
The ideal piece of property will fulfill this criteria:
  • Suburban Location: 5+ acres of developable land to build between 72 – 120+ units within 3-story garden style apartment buildings. For infill urban areas, 1-3+ acres depending upon zoning and density allowances.
  • Site currently zoned for multi-family by right.
  • Utilities to the site, including public water, sewer and electrical.
  • Walkable to local services, retail and/or commercial areas & within 1/2 mile of a Transit Oriented Development area.
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