Already the site of planned infrastructure upgrades that will overhaul utilities and pave streets, a neighborhood in northern Clinton could soon see a full makeover with the development of a 48-unit affordable apartment complex.
The Council on Tuesday night approved a rezoning request by United Developers Inc. to rezone approximately 9.65 acres located at the end of Jasper Street, adjacent to Eliza Lane, from RA-20 residential agriculture to R-8 residential district. The Council then approved a conditional use request by the same company to develop a 48-unit, multi-family apartment complex at the rezoned site.
“What this zoning would permit would be a denser zoning category, which would enable the 48-unit multi-family apartment complex to be requested,” said Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose. “In the RA-20, that zoning district would not provide for as dense a development.”
The Council approved the rezoning request before moving on to the conditional use request.
“There are six buildings, so there would be eight units in each building,” said Rose.
Bill Owen, who handles site location for United Developers, explained a little bit about the company and what they sought to bring to Clinton.
He said United Developers, a Fayetteville-based, family-owned business that has been offering affordable housing for more than 30 years, built its first multi-family development in 1979. The company still owns that development, and manages it and some 400 other units in North Carolina and South Carolina, Owen said.
According to its website, United Developers has developed, constructed and rehabilitated over 3,000 units of affordable housing and 750 units of market-rate housing, including both rental and for-sale units.
The company has participated in the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Tax Credit Program since 1997, through which federal tax credits are awarded to states based on population. Through a competitive application process, Owen said, developers file to receive tax credits to help with financing affordable housing. United Developers has received 60 such awards in the Carolinas.
In January, the company submitted a program application for a 48-unit development in Clinton.
“It was a mixed development of two- and three-bedroom units,” said Owen. “The preliminary application is submitted in January. The first part of the application is a site review by North Carolina Housing Finance and a comprehensive market study. We will know the results of that site review and market study the latter part of this month.”
However, prior to that, United commissioned a preliminary market study to be completed to see that there was a need and that the company’s proposed mix of units was a good one.
“The market we target are residents that earn up to 60 percent of the county median income,” said Owen. “There are two levels of rent. Some of the units are for tenants that earn up to 50 percent of the county median income, and there are some units that are up to 60 percent of the county median income. All of our tenants pay their own rent, they pay their own utilities and our development has a lot of amenities.”
There will be a playground on the property, picnic area, covered seating area and a clubhouse, as well as walking paths throughout. United provides refrigerators, stoves and central air conditioning, many of which are Energy Star appliances.
The development is built under “very strict requirements” regulated and governed by N.C. Housing Finance. There is an annual review by the state, but Owen said there are quarterly internal reviews of all the apartments by the company to ensure the company is adhering to all regulations and the tenants are taking care of properties.
“We want to make sure that if they have some concerns that we are taking care of them,” said Owens, “but also, if they’re not taking care of the apartments, we need to know that too.”
The company works as part of three divisions. United Developers is the development piece, Duggins Smith Builders is the construction piece and United Management serves to oversee the management of the units. Owen noted that those units are a combination of brick veneer and vinyl siding.
“In 2012, our company was recognized by North Carolina Housing Finance for the best design of rental houses, an award we were very pleased to receive,” Owen said.
Should it come to fruition, the development would be a part of a sweeping transformation in that part of town. The Eliza Lane Community Development Block Grant project is expected to improve the quality of life of numerous residents by providing water and sewer upgrades, paved streets and improved fire service to the area.
In December, the City Council awarded the project to Columbus Utilities of Whiteville, the low bidder with a bid of $597,601,50.
The total project includes new water and sewer lines in the neighborhood, fire hydrants and paving Eliza Lane, Abron Street and Jerome Street, which are all currently dirt roads. The area, located immediately adjacent to the city limits off U.S. 701, consists of 22 residences that do not have city water or sewer services. City officials said the streets are in “extremely bad condition,” some being impassable after a heavy rain.
Specifically, the project will include 2,070 linear feet of water lines, 1,570 linear feet of sewer lines and nearly a half mile of street paving. The CDBG grant for $572,765 was matched with $217,785 from the city, split evenly between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 budgets. There is $400,000 in CDBG funds expected to be budgeted for water, sewer and street upgrades as part of the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Called “an excellent community development project” by city officials, the Eliza Lane project is expected to allow the city to annex that area and grow to the northeast. New apartments at the end of Jasper Street would only contribute to that growth.
Owen said it is a commitment that United Developers does not take lightly.
“We make a 30-year commitment to this program that the development will remain as that,” he said. “We do not build them and sell them and leave town. We own every development we’ve ever had.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.