An Eastern Carolina Regional Housing development along East Morisey Boulevard and Eastover Avenue will soon be replaced with a newer, larger version, an effort to update the antiquated residential complex.
The matter was the subject of a public hearing at the City Council’s meeting earlier this week. A conditional use request was made by Eastover Place Ltd., to construct a 46-unit multi-family development at the location, where there is currently an aging 35-unit complex.
James Ross of Ross/Deckard Architects in Raleigh called it a “well-organized project.” He said the 46 units would be made up of two-story units with a breezeway design and lighting provided around the clock.
“We have a strong conviction that the new construction of buildings of this nature — with materials that are brick and vinyl siding and hearty plank — will have a positive impact on the neighborhood and surrounding property values,” Ross said. “We look for the design to be as inviting as possible because we’re interested in marketing the units and keeping them full.”
There will be more space around the buildings, as well as a larger buffer between adjacent properties, he said. Ross’ architectural firm has renovated and constructed about 16,000 units over the past 20 years in several states, most of them on the eastern seaboard.
The property is currently owned and operated by Eastern Carolina Regional Housing Authority. The Bennett Group consulting firm has assisted Eastern Carolina in acquiring funding with the project.
Jake Ramsey of The Bennett Group noted the large investment the housing authority has made in Clinton over the years. Both Eastern Carolina and Bennett Group will have an ownership stake in the new development as it transitions from public to private housing.
“I know you are very familiar with the lack of housing and the age of housing in this community,” Ramsey said to City Council members. “I think Eastern Carolina has done a fantastic job working to preserve housing built in the mid-50s.”
He noted a recent rehab at Byron Butler Court and said this newest overhaul was a way to continue that effort toward providing quality affordable housing in this community. Ramsey said his company would work with the N.C. Housing Finance Development Authority to formulate a relocation plan by which tenants would be displaced temporarily. Residents would be assisted with relocation expenses and finding a place to live.
“Once the redevelopment process is completed they will have the right to return to the property as they so choose,” said Ramsey. “We would hope construction would be less than a year. That is typical.”
He said construction would likely begin in the fall.
“So you and your company are going to partner up with Eastern Carolina Housing and, if this is approved, you are going to displace all these people to comparable housing, level this area and in approximately 12 months,taking out this 1952 housing and putting in this beautiful new two-story, well-landscaped, safe structure for these same people,” Councilman Steve Stefanovich said in recap.
“That is correct,” Ramsey said. “I think that’s actually a pretty good synopsis.”
“With no additional cost to them?” asked Councilman Marcus Becton.
“That is correct,” Ramsey replied.
Robin Lancaster with Eastern Carolina Regional Housing Authority said the partnership with The Bennett Group came out of the need for development and financing expertise. Judy Van Dyke of The Bennett Group is the applicant for the conditional use permit while Lancaster is listed as owner.
“We have done about all we can do with 1950s units. With shrinking budgets, we have less and less money coming in every year to keep these units up,” she said. “There are a lot of things wrong with these units that I cannot overcome. This is the first program that I feel has given us a good fit for the housing authority and the residents.”
In addition to the breezeway-style units, there will also be a community building and a covered picnic area.
Danny Ammons of Powell Street previously expressed his desire that the existing privacy fence be maintained throughout construction and a new privacy fence be constructed along his property line from Eastover Avenue to Morisey Boulevard after construction was completed. There will be a new opaque fence installed after construction to replace the existing fence.
Ammons shared some concerns about preserving large oak trees in the area. Ross said he would work to alleviate those concerns.
It is just the latest housing venture in Clinton as new and varied projects have been approved by City Council over the past couple years, including the 72-unit Harpers Glen on Overland Road, which will consist of six three-story buildings, as well as George Wilson Realty’s Village on Sunset off Sunset Avenue (N.C. 24) targeted at seniors. A move toward establishing second-floor residential units in the downtown is also ongoing by Vince Burgess. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Council approved a request for a 10-lot preliminary subdivision plat by Cape Fear Industries USA Inc., to be located on 7.74 acres off Beaver Dam Drive.
Lancaster reiterated that residents at the Eastover complex will be taken care of during construction. She said Eastern Carolina recently underwent a similar transition in Morehead City and the same situation was being pursued here.
“We have done this before. We will not leave anyone out in the street or in the cold. We will help people find housing,” said Lancaster, pointing to existing housing in Clinton and Roseboro. “Whatever it takes, we will find them somewhere to go. And they will not lose their rent structure. It will be the same as it is now. We want to do what is best for our residents.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.