RFP – Legal Services – Washington County CDA

Proposals due by 3/15/24

Introduction
The Washington County Community Development Agency (the Agency) is inviting interested law firms with experience representing housing and redevelopment authorities and economic development authorities to submit written proposals to provide legal services for the Agency. The Agency is seeking proposals for general counsel as well as firms practicing in the areas of public finance, real estate, government relations, and appellate law. Contracts for service may start as early as May 2024. The Agency anticipates the original contract will be three (3) years in length with an option to extend an additional two (2) years. The firm or firms will be selected by the Agency’s Board of Commissioners and will work closely with the staff of the Agency.


Background
The Washington County Community Development Agency helps communities across the county achieve their housing and economic development goals. Our mission is to promote community and economic development, and provide and maintain affordable, decent and safe housing opportunities in Washington County. The Agency was established in 1974 pursuant to a special enabling law, and was organized by the Washington County Board in 1981. The Agency has all the powers and duties of a housing and redevelopment authority and of an economic development agency.

Major Agency Initiatives
The Agency adopted a Strategic Plan which identifies the priorities guiding the work between 2023 and
2027 (Attachment B). Initiatives may include, but are not limited to:

  • Completion of the development of an emergency housing services building. The Agency is the
    developer of a facility to be owned by Washington County which will provide temporary shelter
    to adults without minor children experiencing homelessness. The development is expected to be
    submitted for watershed and city approvals spring 2024, bid out in summer 2024, and open in
    summer 2025.
  • Acquisition of supportive housing units. The Agency has a purchase agreement with a local non-
    profit to acquire a 6-unit supportive housing residence. The Agency will make a final decision in the next 60 days.
  • Development of new program policies. The Agency expects to create new programs related to
    the preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) properties, expansion of home improvement loan program, financial assistance to manufactured housing communities,
  • and land-banking for future development of affordable housing.
  • Financing of capital improvements. The Agency plans to finance capital improvements at its
    properties over the next two to three years by individual property or group of properties.
  • New construction of deeply affordable apartments. The Agency plans to develop a 60-80 unit
    apartment development in the next five years. The Agency works collaboratively with cities
    within Washington County to acquire land for the purpose of constructing new affordable
    housing developments.
  • Financing of affordable rental developments. The Agency anticipates 1-3 applications for 4%
    Low Income Housing Tax Credits annually and will hold a request for proposals in July 2024 for
    a competitive allocation of its 2025-2026 Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The Agency
    anticipates receiving additional financing applications for the creation or preservation of
    affordable housing units from other Agency resources as well.
  • Scope of Legal Services
    The Agency will consider proposals for each of the services below, separately or any combination of
    services listed including all.
    1) General Counsel
    2) Bond Counsel
    3) Public Finance
    4) Real Estate
  • Legal Services Requirements
    To follow are the primary responsibilities for each service area:
  • 1) General Counsel Services, including but not limited to:
    a. Ongoing advice and consultation on Open Meeting Law, Data Privacy Act, and record retention practices.
    b. Research and submit legal opinions on various matters as requested.
    c. Provide written updates on new state or federal legislation or judicial decisions impacting the Agency and suggested action or changes in operations or procedures to assure compliance.
    d. As needed and directed, attendance at Agency’s Board of Commissioners meetings (primarily third Tuesday of each month).
    e. Ongoing advice and consultation on the Fair Housing Law and Minnesota Human Rights Act, especially in regard to program policy development and day to day activities in the Agency’s rental assistance and homeownership programs.
    f. Prepare and/or review property management agreements with the property management company, as needed.
    g. Ongoing advice and consultation on appellate law, especially pertaining to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program including preparing findings of fact and submitting appeals to the Minnesota Court of Appeals as directed.
    h. Ongoing advice and consultation on employment law, including discrimination, harassment,
    etc. (this service does not include collective bargaining law and representation
  • i. Ongoing advice and consultation on public bidding and construction law.
  • j. Lobbying activities on behalf of the Agency at the state legislature on matters that may affect the Agency.
  • k. Litigation matters may include matters affecting all aspects of the Agency’s programs, including but not limited to, appeals on Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher terminations, contractual disputes, employment related matters, fair housing or property management related matters, etc. The Agency is not, at present, a named party in a lawsuit.

2) Bond counsel services pertaining to the issuance of the full spectrum of taxable and tax-exempt
bonds as regulated by state and federal law pertaining to housing development activities, including
but not limited to preparation and review of bond financing documents, issuance of opinions, and
working with underwriter, financial advisor, trustee, and bondholder if necessary, assisting with
compliance activities, conduit policy development etc. The Agency may issue bonds to fund
development of Agency-owned housing units and of privately-owned housing units.

3) Public finance law specifically including preparation of Redevelopment Plans, Project Areas and
Tax Increment Financing Plans, tax abatement programs, housing finance programs such as
HOME, CDBG, local Housing Trust Funds, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, economic
development programs, special tax levy and other typical public finance tools. Ongoing advice and
consultation on Low Income Housing Tax Credit representing the Agency as a sub-allocator,
including legal review of annual Qualified Allocation Plan and Program Compliance Manual, legal
review tax credit applications, preparation of reservation and carry over agreements, 8609 forms,
and all other legal matters.

4) Ongoing advice and consultation on real estate development and redevelopment initiatives
including environmental law as it pertains to real estate transactions. Prepare and/or review real
estate purchase/sale documents. Prepare and/or review joint powers agreements, development
agreements, redevelopment contracts, or other legal agreements regarding real estate transactions.
Knowledge of environmental laws pertaining to polluted properties, state and federal programs,
liability matters is essential. Knowledge and experience of state and federal law regarding
relocation requirements is also an essential component for consideration.

Required Proposal Elements
PROPOSED SERVICES. Provide a list that clearly states which of the requested services the
firm proposes providing.
FIRM DESCRIPTION. Describe the nature of the law firm’s practice. Describe why the firm
is qualified to provide the services requested by the Agency.
CAPACITY AND TRAINING. Describe the overall capabilities, qualifications, training, and
areas of expertise for each of the principals, partners, and associates of the law firm who will
serve the Agency for each service area. Include any proposed staffing changes should the
Agency’s legal services contract be awarded. Please include the information below:
o Identify the individuals who will be designated to serve the Agency in each service area
including the length of employment for each person, and her/his area of specialization.
Additionally, identify personnel who will handle litigation matters.
o For each identified individual, a description of all instances of discipline against that
attorney by the official disciplinary body of any jurisdiction during the preceding five
years. This includes all disciplinary complaints and matters which resulted in the issuance
of any public sanction, but not limited to, warnings, admonitions, reprimands, and
suspensions.
o Include legal training and number of years of practice, including date of admission to the
Minnesota Bar Association, number of years of municipal, housing and redevelopment
authority, economic development authority, public housing agency, or other local public
sector law practice as a full-time local government attorney and/or in a private law office
specializing in local government.
o Identify relevant professional affiliations, including recent recognitions or awards.
o Describe how the firm will manage the volume of Agency work so that the Agency can
operate in an effective and efficient manner.
o Describe office staffing, including all permanent employees, general duties, and work
schedules.
o Describe the firm’s procedures for providing continuing uninterrupted quality service if
staffing changes or if the requested scope of services is significantly increased.
o Identify any foreseeable or potential conflicts of interest both public and private that
could result from such representation and the manner in which you would propose to
resolve such conflicts.

Proposal Submittal Instructions
Responses must provide complete information as described in this request. Questions about this RFP
may be made to Melissa Taphorn, Executive Director at [email protected] or 651-
202-2821, prior to submission deadline.
The Agency reserves all right to accept or reject any or all proposals. Any proposal received after 4:00
PM on March 15 will not be considered. Any modification of a proposal must be submitted prior to the
deadline, except a modification resulting from the CDA’s request for a “best and final offer.” Proposals
may be withdrawn by written notice, including email, received at any time before award.
An electronic copy must be submitted by 4:30 pm on Friday, March 15, 2024 to
[email protected].

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