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Tawnie Wilson | SBJ

12 People You Need to Know in 2024: Debbie Shantz Hart

Path Changer

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What emerged years ago as a second chapter in Debbie Shantz Hart’s career has led the affordable housing developer to build hundreds of units in three states, including a roughly $10 million apartment complex adjoining the burgeoning Grant Avenue Parkway corridor.

Hart, who co-owns DHTC Development LLC, the developer of the 41-unit, nearly 40,000-square-foot project at 810 W. Catalpa St., says the development designed as a low-income affordable housing option should wrap by first-quarter 2024. Transforming property for the project – financed through federal and state housing tax credits, a conventional loan and a share of the city’s Home program funds through the Missouri Housing and Urban Development Commission – is a source of pride for Hart, who made a career shift 15 years ago into developing affordable housing after roughly two decades as an attorney.

“When the Grant Avenue Parkway project was announced, I was trying to figure out how we could do something that would help aid in the economic development of that corridor,” says Hart, who additionally is co-owner of Housing Plus LLC and Sustainable Housing Solutions LLC, which also develop affordable housing.

Nordic Landing is on 2.4 acres adjacent to a future teen center to be operated by Boys & Girls Club of Springfield Inc. She says the nonprofit plans a spring groundbreaking for its multimillion-dollar project.

“Of our 41 units, eight will be set aside for youth aging out or opting out of the foster care system,” Hart says. “There’s some real synergy in that development with those two projects being side by side.”

Hart partners with her son, Riley Shantz, and Tammy Creson on projects in three states at DHTC, which was founded in 2017. Between her three companies, Hart estimates developing over 900 units, most of which have been in Missouri, with a combined portfolio of roughly $110 million. Some of those units are in local developments such as McClernon Villas and Beacon Village.

“For DHTC, about half of our projects have been in Oklahoma and probably just 10%-15% of total units are in Arkansas and the balance are in Missouri,” she says, noting the company also in early 2024 plans to complete Bluff View Apartments, a 54-unit, two-building complex in Branson that already has 50 people on a waiting list.

For Hart, whose legal career included 13 years as general counsel for John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, changing professional paths led her to pursue housing developments with a positive social purpose at their core.

“We have been able to develop projects that have made a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

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