Glen Lennox redevelopment to address affordable housing

May. 10, 2014 @ 12:19 PM

The proposed redevelopment of Glen Lennox includes language that will help keep rent affordable for some long-term residents.
In the negotiation phase for the Glen Lennox development agreement with Grubb Properties, the Chapel Hill Town Council was advised on how the developer plans to address the town’s need for affordable housing.
In its presentation to the board, Grubb Properties addressed four main concerns it said had been repeated during previous meetings including public sessions, transportation and traffic, affordable housing, design guidelines and fiscal impacts.
In its proposed plan, Grubb Properties suggests a long-term lease agreement for residents who have lived in Glen Lennox for five or more years.
The proposed long-term resident agreement covers 15 percent of the residents, not specific units. Once the 15 percent is reached a waitlist will be created.
According to the plan, rent increases will be capped if a resident stays in the same unit.
If residents move to another unit of similar size and same number of bedrooms, rent increase will also be capped.
Also included in the proposed agreement, if residents have to move and no comparable unit is available, residents may sign a lease for a larger unit and pay what they would pay for the comparable unit with the rent cap or a formula to determine rent based on a percentage of the area median income.
The proposed plan also states that residents who live in Glen Lennox for five or more years and are required to relocate because of the redevelopment will be given a $1,000 moving allowance upon moving into a new unit at Glen Lennox.
“We’ve got a lot of support from residents,” said Rachel Russell of Grubb Properties. “We think it’s really great for the community. We don’t want to displace our residents. We are very committed to making sure they’re not displaced.”
“Our goal is to create a community,” said Clay Grubb of Grubb Properties. “The idea really was to protect residents who invest time and money to be a part of the community.”
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said that the proposed plan is a unique approach that the council hadn’t seen before.
Councilwoman Donna Bell said that a model needs to be in place that sustains the affordability of Glen Lennox units, perhaps a subsidy to assist residents.
Councilwoman Maria Palmer had a different concern. She said that having called Glen Lennox looking for an apartment back in 1995-96 that she was told there was a waiting list. She said that her husband called and was told there was a unit available. The only difference, she said, was their accents, hers being the stronger of the two.
“If certain people don’t feel welcome, it doesn’t matter if it’s affordable,” Palmer said. “For the Latino community, it was ‘don’t apply there.’
“I hope that Glen Lennox will reflect the diversity we have here in Chapel Hill,” she said. “I hope that as you expand this will be a place where everyone feels welcome.”
Grubb apologized to “anyone who’s ever been discriminated against at Glen Lennox or anywhere else” and said that “we’ve always taken that very seriously.”