Wake County

Council OKs affordable apartments in Southeast Raleigh

Southeast Raleigh soon could have about 200 new apartments set aside for people of modest means after the Raleigh City Council granted crucial approval for the Bluffs at Walnut Creek, a community proposed for South New Hope Road.

Built by a private developer, the Bluffs would be designated as affordable housing because it will be partially funded with $21 million in special tax-free bonds from the state. Developer Pedcor Investments can’t get the bonds without city approval; the developer is responsible for repaying the bonds.

The council had delayed a vote on Nov. 5, after local activist Octavia Rainey raised questions about the location of the proposed apartments. The development’s 11 apartment buildings and clubhouse would stand just south of the intersection of Maybrook Crossing and South New Hope roads, in a developing area east of I-440.

Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin had asked whether the city should keep endorsing affordable housing developments that aren’t accessible to current transit lines. The Bluffs would be nearly a mile’s walk, largely without sidewalks, from the nearest city bus route.

Councilman John Odom was concerned that the location in Southeast Raleigh meant that the city was again waiving its “scattered site” rule, which is meant to spread affordable housing around Raleigh, preventing concentration in lower-income areas.

Little new information was presented when the council again took up the matter on Tuesday. The board voted unanimously to help Pedcor get its bonds.

Councilman Eugene Weeks praised the developer for meeting twice with residents of Southeast Raleigh and for the project’s quality.

The proposed development “is above the level of some of the affordable housing … that we’d seen before,” Weeks said. “I want to commend you for listening to the community.”

Councilman Russ Stephenson said the city has been working toward a new set of standards for such developments.

“This is a work in progress, and we’re looking forward to some improvements,” Stephenson said.

Pedcor hopes to finalize financing by February. It also must go through city approval and permitting processes, though it does not require a rezoning.

Renters at the Bluffs would make between 50 percent and 60 percent of the area median income, or a maximum of about $45,500 a year for a family of four. Rent for a household making half of the median income would range from about $600 for a one-bedroom to about $800 for a three-bedroom unit.