DAVIDSON – A residential project more than two years in the making – one the developer, town officials and housing agency representatives envision as a model for future affordable housing partnerships – is approaching the leap from proposal to reality.
At the Davidson town board’s April 13 session, the details of a collaborative effort to include affordable “units on the ground” as part of a high-end townhome project near the core of Davidson’s high-demand real estate market received positive reviews and moved closer to a final board decision scheduled for April 27.
A teamwork presentation including statements of support from Gerald Wright, new executive director of the long-established Davidson Housing Coalition (DHC); and Dave Cable, co-founder of the relatively new Davidson Community Foundation (DFC) service organization, outlined the plan that will blend eight DHC-owned affordable units into Alliance Group N.C.’s proposed townhouse project on the former Hoke Lumber site between Jetton Street and Catawba Avenue.
Cable, in summarizing DCF’s support of the project – which will include a $400,000 contribution – told commissioners he and the DCF were “jacked up about this project” and praised the collaborative process that forged the final plans.
Wright, referencing the Hoke property as the last large development site in west Davidson, said he believed partnership in the project represented the best and highest use of town and DHC funds to provide affordable housing opportunities and “affordable quality of life” for some town residents.
And Jacob Anderson of Alliance Group – who, when he introduced intentions to develop the Hoke site to hesitant commissioners and town residents back in September 2019 said, “It’s a special site, I’d like to treat it special” – got a little emotional explaining that he hoped the project would serve as “a model we can reproduce” in other communities with emerging affordable housing concerns.
Commissioner Jim Fuller, acknowledging Anderson’s choked-back response to the board, and referencing the significant public input last year that provided a strong push to include affordable units in the Hoke property plans, said he considered Anderson’s reaction, the residents’ interest in the project and the town, agency and developer teamwork as combined indications of the project’s importance.
“There’s nothing wrong with being emotional,” Fuller said, “and it is wonderful to care.”
A partnership approach
Alliance Group is proposing 81 townhouses in a multi-building complex on the 5.5-acre former Hoke Lumber site bordered by Jetton and Hamilton streets, Catawba Avenue and a self-storage facility. The Bungalows – DHC’s award-winning affordable housing project – historic small homes and a recent wave of larger, modern homes surround the site.
Each unit will be approximately 2,000 square feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a half-bath and a two-car garage. The anticipated market price for the units is in the $400,000 to $450,000 range.
In an approach involving collaboration and financial commitments from Alliance, the town, the DHC and and the DCF, eight of the units – dispersed throughout the development – will be sold at a substantially discounted price to the DHC.
The $150,000-per-unit discount – totaling $1.2 million – represents about 3.5 times the “payment in lieu” (PIL) Alliance would have been obligated to pay if it chose that method to meet the town’s affordable housing regulations, which give developers a per-unit payment option in place of included affordable units.
As a result of the price reduction, the DHC will be able to acquire the eight units for approximately $2 million. Wright said the DHC plans to secure up to $1.2 million in loans for the project and the DCF has pledged to provide $400,000. The town will provide the remaining $400,000 from its municipal PIL account.
The end result will be DHC perpetual ownership and management of eight of the project’s townhouses. Wright said the units will be targeted to those in the community who earn 50-80 percent of the community’s area median income.
For a family of four in the Davidson area, Wright said, that represents an annual income level of between $42,000 and $66,000. He added that the DHC anticipates charging monthly rents between $1,000 and $1,2000, about half percent of the market rate.