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Weddington Road low-income apartments don’t receive tax credits

dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

The N.C. Housing Finance Agency has awarded low-income housing tax credits to four proposed Charlotte housing projects, while four others did not get approved – including a controversial project to build 70 subsidized apartments off of Weddington Road.

The Weddington Road project was one of the city’s most controversial rezonings, as hundreds of residents questioned the City Council’s decision in January 2014 to rezone 7.23 acres for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.

Most of the apartments would be what the city calls “workforce housing” for families of four earning up to $38,500 a year, which is 60 percent of the median income.

Eighteen apartments would be for families of four earning 30 percent of the median income, which is $19,250.

Julie Porter of the Housing Partnership, a nonprofit developer, said her group isn’t giving up on the apartments.

“We have no intention of selling the land,” she said. “We aren’t discouraged.”

She said the group will try again for the tax credits in 2016.

Pam Wideman, the city’s Housing Services Director, said the city didn’t expect all recommended projects to receive state tax credits. She said projects are scored on criteria such as access to jobs, as well as how much money the developer can bring to the project.

The Weddington Road apartments and three others didn’t receive tax credits from the agency.

Wideman said they can apply again in 2016 for money from the city’s Housing Trust Fund. If they receive money from the city’s housing fund, the next step is to make a second application for the state tax credits.

Earlier this year, the city had set aside $1 million for the Weddington Road apartments, which would have been $9.83 million project.

“For the Partnership, we won’t reserve that money,” Wideman said. “They will have to come back and compete next time.”

A priority of the state has been to spread low-income housing throughout the city, especially to affluent south Charlotte. The Weddington Road project was seen to be an important step in reaching that goal.

The four projects that did receive state tax credits are: Rodden Square apartments for seniors on Mallard Creek Road (98 units); Whitehall Crossing at West Arrowood Road (96 units); the redevelopment of Tall Oaks apartments in Cherry (81 units); Allen Street apartments in Belmont (112 units).

The Allen Street apartments, being developed by Laurel Street Residential, were also controversial, as numerous Belmont residents lobbied the City Council to vote against the project.

The city will spend $4.35 million in Housing Trust Fund dollars for the Allen Street project. The total cost of the apartments are $15.2 million.

Lee Cochran, senior vice president with Laurel Street Residential, said he hopes construction can start in the spring. He said his group is working with nearby St. Paul Baptist Church to develop the site.

Sixty of the apartments are for seniors. The other 52 apartments are for low-income families.

“We think it will be a great project for the neighborhood,” Cochran said. “We think it’s good, high-quality affordable housing for seniors and families. It can be a huge asset for a neighborhood that’s in transition. It can provide housing for people who want to stay in Belmont.”

The other projects that did not receive state tax credits were: Baxter Street apartments in Cherry; Magnolia Gardens on Beatties Ford Road; Tuckaseegee Seniors apartments on Tuckaseegee Road.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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