A cluster of small, affordable homes on the northern edge of downtown likely will soon be knocked down and replaced with new development, sending residents in search of places to live.
The rental homes, known collectively as the Brookview Apartments, are for sale with a list price of $5.3 million. A final deal on the 7.5-acre community owned by Kip-Dell Homes is expected within days.
The move signals new ways developers are looking to build in Raleigh’s dense downtown core but means families likely will be priced out of the neighborhoods they once called home.
Many Brookview residents are skeptical they’ll find new housing that is as convenient and affordable as Brookview.
The 53 single-family houses and duplexes along Virginia Avenue and Sasser Street include 71 units of 450 to 500 square feet, with advertised monthly rents as low as $480.
The neighborhood was in an uproar in recent weeks after residents received a letter asking them to “vacate at their earliest convenience, but preferably no later than December 18.”
A second letter sent Friday clarified that all existing leases would be honored through their expiration date.
But some understood the original letter to mean they were being forced to move out and already were scrambling to find new homes.
Hester Walker, 44, has lived in Brookview for five years and was making plans Thursday to move her belongings to storage while she stayed with friends and searched for somewhere to stay.
“They’re making it extremely difficult for a lot of families,” she said.
Walker’s neighbor, Charles Holmstrom, 57, also was looking for a new home. He makes a 16-mile round trip to his job as a janitor because the rent at Brookview is so affordable.
He’s looked for a place closer to his job in North Raleigh, but the rentals he has found were more than $700 per month.
“I don’t make that kind of money,” he said.
Holstrom was especially worried about what the change would mean for his older neighbors or those with young children.
“I at least have a little flexibility, but a lot of these people don’t,” he said.
Gary Triplett, assistant director of multifamily management at Drucker & Falk, Brookview’s property management firm, said the original letter was sent in error.
“We have a lot of compassion for the residents,” he said. “We are going to work with them to find suitable homes that are close to the things that are important to them and are affordable to them.”
The company also could give financial incentives to help residents move. While existing leases will be honored, the goal is to vacate the houses quickly, he said.
“We are offering to see how we can work with each of them to make a win-win,” Triplett said.
‘One of those difficult times’
Kip Young, president of Kip-Dell, said the Brookview homes were built as housing for returning soldiers after WWII and have been owned by the company since 1965.
“We’ve always liked Brookview and taken a lot of pride in them,” he said.
The houses are nearing the end of their usable life, though, according to Triplett. He said Brookview needs to be redeveloped or it will become functionally obsolete.
“It’s one of those difficult times,” he said.
A similar situation is underway at the Palms Apartments in West Raleigh just inside the Beltline. Earlier this fall, residents were asked to leave their apartments within 90 days because the owners want to redevelop the complex into more-upscale apartments.
Kip-Dell also owns two properties near Brookview, the Oakwood Apartments and Clover Lane Townehomes. Residents at those complexes are not affected by the changes at Brookview, Triplett said.
Neil Gustafson, a broker at Worthy & Wachtel, said about a dozen buyers bid on Brookview, with several offering above the asking price. A contract is in the works and should be complete soon, he said.
For many years, it didn’t make economic sense to knock down existing properties and build in their place, Gustafson said. But with limited land left in Wake County, especially within the Beltline, he expects to see more infill housing development like what’s anticipated at Brookview.
“You’re going to see more and more as time goes by,” he said.