Tax credits approved

Published 8:25 am Thursday, August 21, 2014

AHOSKIE – A $6.5 million apartment complex now on the drawing board to be built in Ahoskie was among 44 projects across the state to gain approval for federal tax credits.

On Aug. 15, the North Carolina Federal Tax Reform Allocation Committee, based on recommendations from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, approved $423 million worth of tax credits and other financing to affordable apartment projects in 37 counties. Included was $403,800 in federal tax credits for Cypress Court, a 48-unit apartment complex planned for construction on East Everett Street (behind Pizza Inn).

“These affordable apartment developments will provide housing opportunities for working families and seniors,” said Bob Kucab, executive director of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. “They also will help to improve communities, keep thousands of North Carolinians working in construction and related industries, and build local tax bases.”

Across the state, the work is expected to support 8,540 jobs and generate more than $13.4 million in local tax revenue.

The Ahoskie Town Council has twice re-zoned the Everett Street property to help open the door for the local project, one where The Affordable Housing Group (TAHG), a Charlotte-based company that specializes in developing affordable housing in small towns and rural communities underserved by other entities, is seeking to construct six, eight-unit apartment buildings on the eight-acre parcel.

Back in May of 2013 the original owners of the property submitted a request to the Ahoskie Planning Board to rezone the area from B-3 (General Business) portion of that tract to R-10 (Multi-Family Residential) which the Council approved with the recommendation of the Ahoskie Planning Board.

In February of 2014 TAHG sent a request to the Planning Board for another re-zoning; this time from R-10 to R-6 to utilize two-story multi-family buildings, which would reduce the total number of buildings TAHG is proposing be constructed on the land.

At their March 12 meeting the Planning Board deadlocked at a 3-3 vote on recommending that the Town Council vote to re-zone to R-6. However, the Town Council has the final vote on a rezoning request.

Keith Truman, then the town’s Zoning Enforcement Officer, explained to Council at their April meeting that TAHG had changed their original plan to construct duplexes to serve as apartments, opting instead to build eight, multi-story buildings. That change, Truman said, would result in having to re-zone the property once again, this time from R-10 to R-6.

Truman further stated that TAHG’s plans call for the same number of housing units to be built (48) and added that they plan to also have a community building that would serve as a library and a laundry room.

“They originally were going to do 25 duplexes but it would involve more streets to access all those duplexes,” Truman said at the April meeting. “By going ‘up’ (two-story) they would have more community area in the middle of the buildings and the parking lot would be larger and more centralized.”

TAHG executive director Cathy Stillwell said the change would allow for more green space, less impervious surface and also leave the existing right-of-way where it is currently located.

“With the duplexes we would have had to completely rearrange and ask the city to abandon that roadway,” Stillwell noted.

Stillwell cited a state market study showing a demand for additional housing units and that her company’s investment would be about $6.5 million with $4.5 million of that in construction, and that her company has identified quite a few local subcontractors who will be given a chance to bid on the work.

“This will include termite treatments, concrete, insulation, roofing, framing, sheetrock, paving, and supply of lumber, windows, and doors,” Stillwell said.  “We develop these properties and we don’t flip them; we stay in these properties for the long term.”

Stillwell also spoke of a commitment to hire a local professional management company to oversee the maintenance and management of the facilities and oversight by lenders and investors.

“We strive and make every effort to be a good neighbor in the communities for the long term,” she concluded.

Statewide, last week’s tax credit approval will produce 3,683 privately owned, privately managed affordable apartments. Seventy-two percent of the apartments (2,650 units) will be designated for families, and 1,033 units will house seniors. At least 295 of the apartments are targeted for persons with disabilities.

The tax credits, authorized by the General Assembly, make it possible to produce affordable apartments in rural counties where incomes are low, and reduce the rents in urban areas.

All of the apartments are affordable for households earning 60 percent of a county’s median income, and many are affordable at 50 percent or 40 percent of median as the result of the additional financing. The state’s Key Program operating assistance makes apartments affordable for persons with disabilities living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is currently $721 a month.

The N.C. Housing Finance Agency evaluates the tax credit applications on behalf of the N.C. Federal Tax Reform Allocation Committee. The highly competitive application process uses a quantitative ranking system and includes independent market studies of each property and site visits by agency staff. Each property is rated for architectural design, rent affordability, financial stability, capability of the development team, and criteria to ensure statewide distribution of the financing.

The N.C. Housing Finance Agency, a self-supporting public agency, has financed more than 221,000 affordable homes and apartments statewide since its creation in 1973.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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