By Madison V. Fisler
Nov. 26, 2012. Bill Owen, representing Fayetteville-based developer United Developers, appeared at the Nov. 15 Boone Town Council meeting to ask for a public hearing for his proposal of a multi-family affordable housing project on Clawson Street.
The proposed project would consist of 72 apartments of which 52 would be two-bedroom units and 20 would be three-bedroom units. Also included with the project would be a playground for the community’s children, a clubhouse on site with a game room, multipurpose space and laundry facilities as well as a sitting porch for residents to enjoy, according to Owen.
“It’s a family development because we provide playgrounds, irrigated lawns and a management and rental office with a community room for the residents to use. We even provide computers and printers for the residents to use,” Owen said.
The apartments themselves would feature wall to wall carpeting, a refrigerator, a stove, light fixtures and storage space. Also, all units would be wired for high speed internet.
“I think multi-family housing is an appropriate use for this parcel [of land],” said Andy Ball, Boone Town Council member. “We need housing for the workforce, especially medical recruits.”
Owen expressed that the targeted market for the proposed project would target families in the area, not students.
“Students are not the market that we target. If there is an a tenant with children who happens to be a student they will qualify, but we target mostly families.”
Owen said that United Developers has been building multi-family affordable housing in North Carolina and South Carolina since 1979. Since the North Carolina Tax Credit program began through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, there has never been an award made in Boone, or in Watauga County. United Developers received its first tax credit award in 1997, and since then they have been awarded over 40 awards for units. The tax credit award, when awarded is used to partially finance approved developments.
“We have already conducted a market study to see what the need was, and the study indicated that there was considerable need for affordable housing,” Owen said.
Ball expressed a concern for the population density of the area if a housing project were approved for the site. The council will receive more information regarding this at the public hearing scheduled for Dec. 10, 2012 at 5 p.m.
“We need to evaluate the need and go from there,” Ball said.
“Based on the zoning, that particular property would hold many more people than we are proposing, but we do not build that way,” Owen said. “We like to have green space and parking lots. We could have proposed a larger development, however that’s not what we do.”
The United Developers housing project proposal comes just three months after the Boone Town Council denied rezoning for a student housing project proposed by Mega Builders that would have included 266 units with 546 bedrooms spread out between 10 buildings at the Aug. 13 meeting.
A public hearing for the proposed project has been scheduled for Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. If rezoning is approved by the Boone Town Council, United Developers will apply for the tax credit by the deadline in January. If they are granted the credit, construction will begin in early 2014, according to Owen.