A major real estate development trade group came out in support of a compromise bill filed this week in Raleigh to repeal House Bill 2, saying the state’s controversial law limiting LGBT protections is hurting their business.
House Bill 186, filed Wednesday by two Republicans and two Democrats in the house, would repeal HB2 and allow cities to pass their own nondiscrimination ordinances, with the limitation that they would not be allowed to regulate bathroom access in private facilities.
NAIOP North Carolina, which represents commercial real estate developers, brokers and others in the industry, said Thursday that it strongly supports the bipartisan bill. Here’s the group’s statement, in part:
“Since the passage of HB2 last March, North Carolina and its commercial real estate industry has suffered millions in lost revenue from taxes, leases and fees, as dozens of economic development prospects have passed over our state because of this law. The office and industrial sectors have been most strongly hit, and with millions of square feet coming on line over the next few quarters, net absorption will be insufficient to keep up with deliveries in Charlotte, the Triangle and the Triad. As a result, many of our state’s developers and real estate professionals are at financial risk once again, just a few years after the end of the Great Recession.
Economic development recruiters increasingly tell our brokers that North Carolina is ‘off the list’ when it comes to company relocations. Despite the outstanding tax and regulatory climate the General Assembly has created over the past four years, the intended economic benefits will not be fully realized until HB2 is repealed and the economic boycott of our state is lifted.”
The group, whose members hail from Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham and the Triad, said HB186 is the best chance for repealing HB2, which overturned Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance and limited local protections for LGBT individuals, as well as mandating transgender people use the bathroom corresponding to their birth certificate in public buildings.
The real estate industry in North Carolina has mostly opposed HB2, which caused companies including PayPal and CoStar to cancel planned Charlotte expansions. Along with economic developers, they’re concerned about companies eliminating North Carolina as a relocation possibility because of negative publicity. The main lobbying group for restaurants and hotels in North Carolina is supporting the compromise as well, because they’ve been hit hard by cancellations and relocations of major events such as the NBA All-Star Game.
HB186’s prospects are uncertain. It’s not clear the bill will garner the votes it needs to pass, and groups on both sides of the LGBT debate have come out against HB186.
The N.C. Values Coalition, a main HB2 supporter, blasted the compromise on Thursday.
“Our lawmakers should reject Rep. (Chuck) McGrady’s misguided bill that does nothing to stop cities from passing the same unlawful, coercive ordinances that started this debate in Charlotte and leaves the state without a policy on privacy in bathrooms,” Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald said in a news release. “Lawmakers should stand by HB2 because it is the only way to ensure that privacy, dignity, and common sense rule in North Carolina.”
Chris Sgro, executive director of HB2 opponent Equality N.C., is also against the compromise and wants to see a full repeal. He said the bill would “double down on the harm our state and LGBTQ people have already suffered.”
“I’m certain this will not bring back business or sporting events, and only serves to reinforce the damage,” said Sgro.