Arthur Winn, the founder and principal of WinnCompanies, an award-winning national property development and management company, was honored last week with the 2015 Community Leadership Award from the Boston Office of AJC (American Jewish Committee).
A record crowd of more than 500 people attended the AJC awards dinner for Winn at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, former Gov. Michael Dukakis, residents of Winn-owned and managed communities, and dozens of developers, construction executives, and business, government and civic leaders. The event raised close to $1 million, a record amount for AJC Boston.
“I’m here to congratulate Arthur and his wonderful family,” said Gov. Baker. “I especially want recognize all the work, all the effort, all the philanthropy and all the community service that he and they have put into so many activities and so many projects throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I can say as the governor, Arthur, I expect your family to continue to play big going forward because we have lots of great things we need to do here.”
Read more coverage of Arthur Winn's AJC Community Award in the Boston Globe.
Boston Mayor J. Walsh delivered a videotaped message congratulating Winn, saying: “Arthur has been a terrific friend and partner for our city. Through his commitment to affordable housing, he has helped countless families find the safe quality homes they need. Arthur also stands out for his generosity.”
Winn, 76, started WinnCompanies in Boston in 1971 to specialize in quality affordable housing. It has evolved into an award-winning, full service development and management company. It is the nation's largest manager of affordable housing and privatized military housing, a leader in historic adaptive reuse, and the fifth largest multi-family property manager with a portfolio of nearly 97,000 units in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
“Through Arthur’s efforts, people all across the country, many of whom might otherwise have found it difficult to establish a quality living environment, obtained homes that gave them the opportunity to lead stable and productive lives,” said Robert Leikind, director of the AJC Boston. “The impact of Arthur Winn’s work on hundreds of thousands of people cannot be overstated.”
Winn began his business with a handful of signature mixed income housing developments in Massachusetts that are still in the WinnCompanies portfolio today – Pequot Highlands, a 250-unit community in Salem; Coes Pond Village, also 250 units, in Worcester; the 306-unit Village at Brookline in Brookline; and, Mystic Place, a 465-unit community in Medford.
“When I started out, affordable housing was synonymous with slum housing. Residents were treated with contempt and warehoused in barracks segregated from the community,” Winn said. “The business model for WinnCompanies was designed to break that mold. Every development would stand out for quality and innovation. We would never default on debt. Our investors would get the returns we promised. Our properties would be welcomed as attractive community assets. And, we would nurture and maintain the closest possible relationships with residents.”
Winn sharpened the company’s development skills with noteworthy commercial work, including the Bostonian Hotel, a AAA Four Diamond hotel built in 1982 overlooking historic Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall; One Brookline Place, a premier office property built in 1987 in the core of Boston’s world-leading medical district; and, One Arsenal Place in Columbus, Georgia, a National Historic Landmark rehabilitated in 1978 as the headquarters for Synovus Financial Corporation.
His reputation for enlightened partnerships with resident was cemented by two Boston projects – Castle Square Apartments and Mission Main, both which leveraged incarnations of the U.S. Housing & Urban Development HOPE program.
In 1992, Arthur Winn and the tenants of Castle Square in Boston’s South End became joint owners of the deteriorating property, triggering a renovation of the 500-unit, mixed income community that would make it the single most successful HOPE development. The work won multiple industry awards, including Best Urban Tower and Best Urban Low Rise, and was awarded LEED for Homes Multifamily Platinum Certification, the highest possible rating, after a historic retrofit in 2012.
In 1996, the residents of Mission Main in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood chose Arthur Winn as their development partner to transform the massive, desolate housing project into 535 units of mixed-income housing in a townhouse-style community supported by an array of ambitious, self-funded resident service programs. The effort won numerous industry awards and drew praise from then-HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, who in 1998 called the project “an example of the type of housing we would like to see all across the country.”
Read more coverage of Arthur Winn's Award in the Boston Herald