NBT Bancorp in Norwich, New York, is leveraging a core competency — commercial real estate lending — as part of a project that aims to increase the stock of affordable housing in its footprint, burnish its Community Reinvestment Act profile and generate a solid return on investment.
The $12.1 billion-asset NBT has teamed with CEI-Boulos, a real estate fund manager in Brunswick, Maine, to create a $10 million commercial real estate equity investment fund. While the bank will consider investing in multifamily, hospitality, office and mixed-use projects, the fund, which launched last month, will emphasize affordable housing, according to NBT President and CEO John Watt.
“We have an obligation as a community bank to ensure that those communities we’re doing business in are vibrant,” Watt said. “One of the ways we do that is to focus on affordable housing.”