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DENVER-NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal is at the center of what may be the largest affordable housing purchases of its kind ever consummated. O’Neal is a general partner in the deal that ultimately will be between $95 million and $100 million to buy 1,407 subsidized Section 8 housing units in Colorado.

American Housing Preservation Corp. of Portland, ME, a company headed byMichael Liberty, is the buyer in the deal that is being financed with a $70-million loan by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. When the renovation, soft costs and equity are included, the deal could approach $100 million.

The 7-foot-1, 315-pound O’Neal flew to Denver to celebrate the deal, which included a lunch at the Palm restaurant hosted by the seller, Urban Inc. of Denver, headed by Steve Shraiberg and Alfred Blum.

O’Neal tells GlobeSt.com he believes he has led a blessed life and it is important to give back. Asked by GlobeSt.com why other superstars don’t do what he is doing,he says, “I don’t know. It’s up to them. If they think they should invest their money this way, they should. If they don’t think they should, they shouldn’t.”

But Mike Parris, his uncle and business manager, tells GlobeSt.com he thinks other superstars will follow.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of superstars and athletes follow Shaq’s lead,” the New Jersey homicide detective tells GlobeSt.com. “The need for affordable housing in this country is so important and these guys can make a difference by preserving it.”

Liberty, who brought Shaq to the deal, agrees.

“Shaq is doing well by doing good,” Liberty tells GlobeSt.com.

Steve Shraiberg, president of Urban Inc., and a pioneer in affordable housing investments, says he would only sell his portfolio to a group that was committed to keeping the units as affordable for residents. Liberty notes he could have sold it for far more to someone who wanted to tear it down and replace the properties in 10 Colorado counties with market-rate units. Most of the communities are 100% occupied and have waiting lists.

O’Neal says the Colorado investment is the first of many he plans to make in affordable housing.

“My goal is to eventually own $1 billion in affordable housing,” O’Neal tells GlobeSt.com. “Free and clear.”

Liberty, in an allusion to O’Neal’s size, describes the Lakers center as “the biggest landlord in the country.”

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