Asheville City Council considers housing incentives on May 26

Asheville city seal

The city’s COVID-19 response continues to dominate business at Asheville City Council, but that doesn’t mean officials have stopped work on the perennially hot topic of affordable housing. At Council’s meeting of Tuesday, May 26, members will consider approving two Land Use Incentive Grants for projects at 11 Collier Avenue and 2 Restaurant Court.

The first project would provide 54 units of downtown housing to households earning 80% or less of the area median income; the developer, Wilmington-based Tribute Companies, would also accept at least five housing choice vouchers. The company, which also received Council approval in December to build a 488-unit mixed-use complex with affordable elements on the South Slope, would receive a total tax rebate of more than $383,000 for these affordability guarantees.

The Collier development has faced criticism from residents and environmental activists who believe the land, which currently is home to nearly two dozen 100-year-old native oak trees, should be protected. An online petition by the South Slope Tree Preservation Coalition asking Council to stop the development, started in August, now has over 1,800 signatures.

The Restaurant Court development would include 40 affordable one-bedroom apartments near Tunnel Road in East Asheville, with nearby access to transit and essential services. All of the project’s units would be affordable at 80% AMI, with 30 set aside for households at or below 60% AMI.

Developer Kirk Booth has requested an incentive grant of over $289,000 and a $1 million loan from the city’s Housing Trust Fund. If both the grant and the loan are approved, the total subsidy per affordable unit would be roughly $32,000, less than half the $80,000 per unit target suggested at a September city workshop.

Other business and consent agenda

A presentation of the city’s fiscal year 2020-2021 budget is also planned. Documents were not linked through the online meeting agenda at press time.

Council’s consent agenda for the meeting contains 14 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following resolutions:

  • A resolution authorizing city manager Debra Campbell to apply for and accept a U.S. Department of Justice Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program grant. The DOJ has indicated that the Asheville Police Department is eligible for $153,278 to reimburse purchases made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A resolution to apply for and accept $285,416 in grant funding from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to reduce drug trafficking and production. The funds will cover supplies, services and overtime pay for the Asheville High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team.
  • A $962,000 contract with Young Transportation to supplement Asheville Rides Transit operations and restore service to routes that have been cut due to COVID-19. Federal coronavirus relief money will be used to cover the entire contract cost.

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Due to COVID-19, Council will meet remotely, and the meeting will be livestreamed through the City of Asheville’s Public Engagement Hub.

Members of the public may comment in three ways:

  • Leave a voicemail at 828-925-2801, meeting code 8914, before 5 p.m. on May 25
  • Email AshevilleCityCouncilMay262020@PublicInput.com; emails will be accepted for up to 24 hours after each public hearing
  • Call in to the meeting live at 828-925-2801, meeting code 8914, and press * to listen live, leave a comment or join the speaker queue.
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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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