During their meeting of Tuesday, Dec. 10, members of Asheville City Council will consider whether to approve affordable housing incentives, as well as conditional zoning, for a mixed-use, mixed-income development on the city’s South Slope. According to a staff report available before the meeting, each of 49 affordable one-bedroom apartments in the planned 448-unit rental development could be subsidized by up to $80,000 in taxpayer funds.
Brought before Council by Wilmington-based developer Tribute Companies, the proposed project would consist of four properties located at 172 Asheland Ave., 185 Coxe Ave., 5 Federal Alley and 99999 Coxe Ave. containing 488 residential units and 86,000 square feet of office and commercial space including 973 parking spaces. Of the residential units, 49 apartments would be reserved for households earning up to 80% of the area median income ($53,120 for a family of four) for 20 years.
Tribute’s request for a Land Use Incentive Grant is among the first to be evaluated after Council revised the affordable housing initiative in October. The changes halved the number of points needed to qualify for a one-year property tax grant from 10 to 5 and raised the minimum period that developments must remain affordable from 15 to 20 years.
Under the new points system, the development earned 30 points for offering 10% of its total units as affordable at 80% AMI and for maintaining affordability for 20 years. The project was also awarded 10 points based on the developer’s commitment to accept at least 10 housing choice vouchers, as well as an additional 50 points for its location within the Central Business District, which will provide access to schools, employment and transportation.
Those points qualify the project for a subsidy of over $120,000 per affordable unit — more than $5.89 million in total — according to Asheville’s policy as written. However, Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee recommended capping the grant at $80,000 per unit, or $3.92 million overall, in line with guidance from consultants Lord Aeck Sargeant. Staff members have recommended Council to approve LUIG as well as the conditional zoning for the project.
In other news
Continuing the theme of affordable housing, Council will consider a request from Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity for a $860,000 Housing Trust Fund Loan to construct eight homes within city limits for sale to households making up to 80% AMI. The homes are expected to cost $190,000-$235,000.
Apartment community Verde Vista is also requesting a Land Use Incentive Grant for the development of 56 apartments, six of which will be designated affordable at 80% AMI for 20 years. Staff members recommend denial of this request, citing the developer’s existing obligation to construct the affordable units through a conditional zoning request approved in May.
Council members will hear a presentation on the city’s fiscal year 2019 audit report. According to the presentation, the city received an “unmodified opinion,” indicating that no major financial misstatements were discovered. The audit also found no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses for the current year.
City Manager Debra Campbell will also provide a six-month update on Council initiatives and priorities. No information about the report was provided ahead of the meeting.
Council’s consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include resolutions to:
- Set a public hearing for Tuesday, Jan. 14, on issuing 20-year general obligation bonds related to the 2016 bond referendum. The bonds will refinance $23 million in existing debt the city currently bears through a general obligation bond anticipation note.
- Amend the city’s license agreement with Maple Crest LLC and the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville to fund $400,000 in additional construction costs related to the development of a new roadway connecting 319 Biltmore Ave. with the redevelopment of Lee Walker Heights. The money would be taken from the city’s $15 million affordable housing bond funds, approved by voters in a 2016 referendum.
Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza, Asheville. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.