Durham City Council Asserts Its Commitment to Downtown Affordable Housing—In About Four Years | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Durham City Council Asserts Its Commitment to Downtown Affordable Housing—In About Four Years

Posted by on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge Seen here is the L-shaped lot on Jackson Street that Durham CAN identified as an opportunity for affordable housing in downtown Durham next to the Durham Station on Pettigrew Street.
  • Seen here is the L-shaped lot on Jackson Street that Durham CAN identified as an opportunity for affordable housing in downtown Durham next to the Durham Station on Pettigrew Street.

It’s been over a year since the group Durham CAN pinpointed a nearly two-acre parcel of ripe-for-development land on Jackson Street as an opportunity to build affordable housing.

Last year, Self-Help Credit Union told the city council it would be interested in helping create a mixed-income development, where at least 80 percent of the units on will be available for renters making at or below 60 percent of the area median income. Last September, the council decided not to fast-track the project, saying it wanted its staff to review its options. In November, staff members gave the council three choices: a purely affordable development, mixed-income housing, and market-rate and/or “workforce” housing. The city opted for the mixed-income development—essentially what Self-Help wanted to do.

But there hasn’t been much movement since—and, in fact, it could be another four years before those downtown units ever appear, according to a timeline presented to the city council last week.

click to enlarge Timeline of proposed RFQ for Jackson Street property - CITY OF DURHAM
  • City of Durham
  • Timeline of proposed RFQ for Jackson Street property

Members of CAN came to a council work session on Thursday prepared to fight—there was a rumor that the council was going to walk back its commitment to affordable housing on that site—but instead found the council assuring them they had nothing to worry about. “We might not move as fast as some would like us to move, but it’s a commitment,” said Mayor Bill Bell. “Sometimes it does get somewhat irritating when innuendos are made that we are trying to do something less than what we’ve committed to do.”

The city is currently preparing to seek bids on the project. The hope is to have a developer with experience with low-income housing tax credits establish a building plan that includes ground-floor retail and can integrate bus and rail transit.

As Richard Valzonis, senior project manager with the city’s Department of Community Development, notes, this federal LIHTC program is competitive—especially because Durham County competes against other countries facing affordable housing crises, including Wake, Buncombe, and Mecklenburg. Municipalities first have to seek a partner—for instance, Self-Help—but even after that, those applications aren’t always accepted. In 2015, Durham County had two projects accepted by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, which administers the LIHTC program. But 2016 had none.  

That’s part of the reason the Jackson Street project will take so long to unfurl.

CAN has also identified multiple tracts of land owned by the city and Durham County for affordable housing downtown, including parking lots on East Main Street. Conversations on those have seemingly stalled, but this week county commissioners will take the issue up again.

On Monday night the Durham County Board of Commissioners voted to pitch in county-owned land for the prospect of affordable housing. Parking lots on 300 block of East Main Street and the large Health and Human Services parking lot on the 500 block of East Main street were offered up for an RFQ process to build structured parking that included directives to determine the feasibility and inclusion of retail and affordable housing.


Tags: , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

I have very little patience for the empty-headed Pro-poison crowd, which is begging the government to take everyones rights away …

by DoritoReiss on The Problem with N.C.’s Religious Exemption Law (News)

About time some one fixed this.

by Bob Schroeck on Durham Attorney Scott Holmes Challenges N.C. Court Fees as Unconstitutional (News)

Most Recent Comments

I have very little patience for the empty-headed Pro-poison crowd, which is begging the government to take everyones rights away …

by DoritoReiss on The Problem with N.C.’s Religious Exemption Law (News)

About time some one fixed this.

by Bob Schroeck on Durham Attorney Scott Holmes Challenges N.C. Court Fees as Unconstitutional (News)

And I'm just getting started- What do you think of a society that ritualizes placing its babies -their most vulnerable, …

by Nellie McFarlane De Jong on The Problem with N.C.’s Religious Exemption Law (News)

Feel free to put your faith in pharmaceutical products if you want to live like that. I prefer not to, …

by Nellie McFarlane De Jong on The Problem with N.C.’s Religious Exemption Law (News)

Genetics do not cause autism. Humans have genetic differences that react to viruses and vaccines at different rates. Somali populations …

by Nellie McFarlane De Jong on The Problem with N.C.’s Religious Exemption Law (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation