Town staff will bring information to the Town Council this fall about other potential partners for an affordable-housing project in the Ephesus-Fordham district.
“I would like us to invite other developers to contact us and submit proposals if they’re so inclined, because I went through that list of developments that did get approval, and it’s extremely diverse, a fair number of them are arguably for-profit,” said council member Matt Czajkowski, who proposed the move. “I’ve heard from at least one local developer who’s done some affordable housing that’s interested.”
The N.C. Housing Finance Agency awarded $423 million in federal tax credits last month to low-cost housing projects statewide, including to eight developers in Raleigh, Cary and Henderson. However, the application from Raleigh-based nonprofit DHIC Inc. – the town’s partner in the Ephesus-Fordham project – was rejected because it was missing required paperwork. DHIC President Greg Warren said the agency will reapply in January.
The town kicked off its new Ephesus-Fordham form-based code district in July for the commercial area east of Franklin Street and Elliott Road. The district, rezoned to speed development in an area the town targeted for growth, is meant to fuel public and private redevelopment of retail and office space, housing and much-needed road and stormwater improvements.
Town and DHIC officials have been working for more than a year on plans for roughly 140 affordable senior and family apartments on Legion Road. The project would be built on 8.5 acres of town-owned land, which the agency has the option to buy for $100.
Czajkowski voted against the DHIC deal in November, saying it was giving away the land without public discussion at a time when the town could use the money from selling it for other needs.
The land, beside the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery, is valued at $2 million to $4 million.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt agreed last week the council has to take “some action” but did not elaborate. He later said his preference is still to resubmit the DHIC application, parts of which got high scores from the state before it was rejected.
“I think that’s a pretty good sign that we have an application that’s going to continue to get better,” he said. But “there’s questions on the council that I think are reasonable questions to have. ... It’s an invaluable exercise to engage with others that might assist us with developing affordable housing. We have lots of other properties, as well, and we’re never not going to need affordable housing.”
The council could review the deal with DHIC in a few weeks, Town Manager Roger Stancil said.
The federal tax credit program was established in 1987 to encourage private investment in affordable rental housing. N.C. Housing Finance Agency spokeswoman Margaret Matrone said that program, which allocates millions in tax credits based on a state’s population, continues to be available.
However, the legislature changed the state’s low-cost housing credits program when it passed tax reform last year, she said. That means there will be less state money available in the future, she said. Next year’s allocation is $10 million.