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New housing project planned

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The city is planning 60 housing units on Tarboro Street near Edgecombe Community College in downtown Rocky Mount.

State funding has been secured for low-rent housing at 218-242 Tarboro Street, which are city-owned parcels, as revealed on day two of the Rocky Mount City Council retreat and released by Tameka Kenan-Norman, the city's chief communication officer.

Rent would cost approximately $500 a month.

“This is affordable housing for your workforce,” said Sarah P. Odio, project manager for the Development Finance Initiative at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government.

The housing would be street facing with approximately 66 total parking spaces that would require a zoning change, according to Odio.

DFI was engaged by the state to assist with attracting private investment for the development of affordable housing for low- or moderate-income households in hurricane-impacted communities.

The state Office of Recovery and Resiliency has committed to financing the development of the proposed 60 units using Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds.

Odio proposes that units will be for households at or below 60 percent of the area median income, which ranges from $22,260 to $31,800 annually depending on the number of people in the household.

“You have households spending 50 percent of their income on their rent,” Odio said. “They can’t save to buy a house or spend the money in the community, so this is a vehicle to give people a chance to save that money.”

The City Council is set to vote on the project Monday. A vote would commit the council to convey the property via sale or ground lease, contingent that the council will later approve a development partner and execution of a development agreement.

If approved, the next steps would include public information sessions, which are expected to take place in March.

From there, the solicitation for a development partner would occur, with a Memorandum of Understanding negotiations to follow. There are some negotiation factors, such as having a blended mix of income ranges within the units or restricting a portion of the project to families and the elderly, according to information provided by Kenan-Norman.

As a part of downtown revitalization, Kevin Harris, business development manager, has also been assigned the duties of downtown manager with a responsibility of identifying key stakeholders and staying in frequent contact with them, Kenan-Norman said.

The City Council also heard from Finance Director Amy Staton, who said sales tax growth continues and general fund revenues remain stable.

Challenges include the tax base and infrastructure projects for utilities. Current debt ratios are within policy targets. Event Center bond payments began in May 2017, with interest only for two years. Principal payments are to begin in May.

In the general fund, the city should finish the fiscal year without using $1.25 million of appropriated fund balance included in the adopted budget. That money will return to the fund balance.

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