Whitted plan moving forward

Apr. 01, 2013 @ 09:18 PM

Officials took two more steps Monday on the road to renovating the former Whitted Junior High School, a $21.1 million effort they hope yields low-cost housing and a pre-school.

City Council members took care of matters on the regulatory front, voting 6-0 to rezone the 4.1 acres off East Umstead Street that the school occupies. The zoning in theory allows developers to build up to 92 units there.

Meanwhile, County Commissioners looked over the outline of their government’s potential deal with the Integral Group, the Atlanta developer they picked to spearhead the renovation.

The outline reiterates that the county will contribute $1.5 million in subsidies directly to the project.

Integral and its local partner, Forty/AM, are counting on the Durham Public Schools contributing another $5 million. The county is indirectly supplying that money as well, as it funds DPS.

Commissioners will formally approve the outline later this month. Assuming they do, County Manager Mike Ruffin’s staff and county lawyer will hammer out a formal contract with Integral.

Deputy County Attorney Carol Hammett said Integeral has applied for the key component of its financing, some $7.2 million of low-income housing tax credits the firm can market to would-be investors.

Integral has asked the City Council to chip in another $500,000. Members have signaled they’re likely to go along, but they’re scheduled to begin their formal review of the request on Thursday.

The project’s housing component will not include 92 units, the theoretical maximum the city’s zoning would allow.

Integral is actually planning 89 apartments, reserved for low-income seniors who make less than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Forty of the units would be in an all-new building the company would erect next to the old school.