A new initiative could give people more options in the future for finding local homes that they can afford.
The Chapel Hill Town Council this past week set aside a town-owned tract at 2200 Homestead Road for a proposed affordable housing community and told Town Manager Roger Stancil to continue talking with potential partners to develop the plan.
The 14.25-acre site, between the Southern Railroad tracks and Bridgepoint development, was deeded to the town in 2001 as part of the Vineyard Square permit approval. A town task force has identified it as having potential to be the site of affordable housing, a major town priority.
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The site currently is home to the Hope Community Garden and also includes the vacant Sport Art Gymnastics building. A pond and a stream across the site limits how much is available for developing to 4.8 acres along Homestead Road, said Edward Barberio, the town’s affordable housing development officer.
A previous town report noted the Sport Art building has mold and asbestos and should be demolished or renovated. A dam that created the pond also needs to be renovated or removed, the report stated.
The site is now zoned for Residential 4-Conditional Use, which allows medium- to high-density residential construction. Town staff is suggesting a mix of housing types, including townhomes, apartments and micro-homes, serving a full range of incomes. It also could be on the future Horace Williams Greenway Trail, he said.
The plan is for apartments and micro-homes that serve households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, or up to $30,840 a year for an individual. The apartments could be priced for those earning at least 80 percent of AMI, or $41,100 for an individual. Chapel Hill’s AMI is $73,300 for a family of four.
“This mix of different building styles, in addition to the mix of income levels, we feel can promote diversity on the site,” Barberio said, “and that can also contribute to the operating and maintenance costs of the housing development, and hopefully, make it very self-sufficient in years to come.”
Town staff is working a with David Paul Rosen and Associates to evaluate the proposal, including financial plans, site suitability and potential partners, which could include Orange County and nonprofit housing agencies, officials said. The town is using $100,000 from its Affordable Housing Fund to craft the plan and could seek money for a future development from private grants or loans, and from town, county and federal sources.
Barberio said he talked with UNC Health Care about a partnership and with Central Carolina Community College about the possibility of building the micro-homes. Representatives from the community garden and the Church of the Advocate, which is building three tiny homes on its property next door, responded positively to the town’s plan, he said.
Council member Nancy Oates also spoke positively about the plan, noting studies have shown that mixed-income sites are the healthiest for people and communities.
“Our inclusionary zoning is predicated on that belief, and I’m really, really pleased to see that this is all coming together with such alacrity,” she said.
Other housing news
Public housing grant
The town expects to get more federal money this year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for public housing renovations. The town operates 336 units in 13 public housing communities, all of which are being assessed and appraised, housing officials said.
The council could review financing options for redeveloping some of those communities later this year and consider a redevelopment plan in early 2018.
Meanwhile, the town’s Housing and Community Department plans several projects using $549,598 in federal grant money, including landscaping and surface improvements in the Trinity Court, Craig-Gomains and Eastwood neighborhoods ($308,250); plumbing work in the South Estes neighborhood ($52,789); and parking and roof repairs in the Pritchard Park neighborhood ($45,000).
The council plans to talk about a possible housing bond in October and could approve a preliminary bond resolution by November. The idea of a 2018 bond was raised this spring.
By the numbers
▪ 12 new affordable units added this year
▪ 900 housing units subsidized by the town
▪ 10 percent of town employees live in Chapel Hill
▪ 20 properties acquired so far — and another pending — in the Northside neighborhood, north of West Rosemary Street, through the Northside Neighborhood Initiative and a $3 million UNC-funded loan program
▪ 90 new homes expected by 2018 at DHIC Inc.’s Greenfield Place project on Legion Road and in Northside
▪ $5.1 million dedicated this year to affordable housing
▪ 19 percent of those admitted to public housing were homeless
▪ 1,000 people live in 336 Chapel Hill Public Housing units