In the Dec. 26 issue there was both an editorial (“Wow factor on Oberlin”) and a letter (“Use Rex site for affordable housing”) concerning the need for more affordable housing within the city of Raleigh, with the letter specifically targeting the old Rex Hospital site as an ideal location for housing not only for lower income residents but also for middle income folks in our service trades and professions who cannot ordinarily afford to live in the city.
This is a perfect example of something I’ve always referred to as the “Hilton Head Island Syndrome” in that those who work there cannot afford to live there.
As an architect with a graduate degree in urban design, I am perhaps a bit more sensitive to such issues than most, and as a longtime owner of a home directly adjacent to the old Rex site, my wife and I are among the few who will be most directly impacted by the development of this site.
Having a hopefully well planned and designed mixed use development on this valuable property is exciting from the standpoint of saying goodbye to the remarkably unattractive buildings there now. But while the inclusion of more affordable housing on the site is a worthy goal, there are the usual obstacles of zoning and density balance, real estate economics and, the big one – money.
The question is, who is to champion this, and who’s going to make the numbers work?