Council weighs rental housing proposal

Sep. 30, 2013 @ 09:05 PM

The Town Council on Monday directed staff to look further into a proposal to build 140 units of affordable rental housing on town property adjacent to the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery on Legion Road.

DHIC, a Raleigh non-profit developer wants to build up to 60 workforce rental units and 80 units of rental housing for seniors with limited income on 10 acres of undeveloped land on the western portion of the cemetery.

“We’ve found that mix of senior and family works very well,” said  Gregg Warren, president of DHIC.

To keep the project affordable DHIC would apply for a Low-Inco1me Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) to help subsidize the projects.

The project would be built in two phases with the workforce rentals coming first. The senior housing would come in a subsequent application for a LIHTC. 

DHIC has developed similar projects throughout the Triangle, including the 32-unit senior apartment complex in Durham called Maplewood Square.

Warren asked the town to partner with the non-profit by donating the 10 acres, paying for a due diligence study, waiving impact fees and paying for site improvements such as extending sewer lines to the property.

While the council seemed generally amenable to the proposal, two members – Gene Pease and Matt Czajkowski – said it’s important the town know the value of the property before committing to such a deal.

“We owe it to the citizens, very clearly, and that is we show the cost analysis of doing this to the town, rather than quietly say it’s four cents on the tax code,” Czajkowski said. “I don’t want to be sitting here in November or December, being one of two people if Gene (Pease) is still here and one if not, saying ‘Where is the appraisal?’ ”

 Czajkowski said he wanted it to be clear before the council’s work session ended that the town would get a “full blown” appraisal of the property before making any commitments.

DHIC would be on a tight timetable for submitting its application to the NCHFA.

Plans call for submitting a preliminary application for tax credits by mid-January, and if its application scores are found to be competitive, DHIC would submit a full application for tax credits by Mid-May.

If DHIC is awarded the tax credits, it would begin the development process in August.    

The site carries a Residential-2 zoning, which does not allow for multi-family development or the density the developer said is needed to make the project viable.

Warren said he believed the proposed Ephesus/Fordham zoning changes coming next year would allow DHIC to develop the property in a manner consistent with their plans.