Politics & Government

Proposal would require low-income housing in projects that get tax grants

Pappas Properties plans to build retail, office, housing, a hotel, and parking deck on land the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association owns next to Pearl Street Park, in part with the help of a $4.4 million subsidy from local governments. Interim city manager Ron Kimble said similar projects in the future may be required to have low-income housing.
Pappas Properties plans to build retail, office, housing, a hotel, and parking deck on land the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association owns next to Pearl Street Park, in part with the help of a $4.4 million subsidy from local governments. Interim city manager Ron Kimble said similar projects in the future may be required to have low-income housing. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte interim City Manager Ron Kimble said the city could require developers to include affordable housing in new mixed-use developments that receive property tax grants.

Kimble’s proposal was made after the City Council’s economic development committee voted 5-0 this week to approve $4.4 million for property tax rebates at a new mixed-use development in midtown.

The full council will consider the agreement Nov. 14.

But in backing the tax rebates, council members didn’t ask or require the developer to include low-income housing on the site.

After the vote, some council members said they wished they had required low-income housing in exchange for the property tax money.

Kimble said a new policy could require it.

“We could negotiate when we are offering public moneys,” Kimble said. “We could negotiate the number and type of units.”

Affordable housing has been a council priority for years, and the city has had a long-standing goal of building 5,000 new units in five years. After the Keith Lamont Scott shooting and civil unrest, council members said they would build those 5,000 units in three years.

One of council’s challenges is that it can’t require developers to include affordable housing in their units.

And when developers ask for a rezoning, council members can’t legally require a builder to include low-income housing in exchange for the rezoning.

But the midtown project by Pappas Properties was different.

The developer, Peter Pappas, asked the city and county for $4.4 million in property tax rebates, mostly in exchange for building new roads in and near the project, which would be built on the site of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association building on Kenilworth Avenue. It would include retail, office a hotel and market-rate apartments.

The request for the property tax rebates gave the city and county leverage to request or require affordable housing.

But council members spent much of the past year focusing on the details of the property tax rebate and didn’t ask about affordable housing on the site.

The plan with the city and county calls for a series of land swaps and sales. The agreement would create a new piece of land that the Charlotte Housing Authority could use to build low-income housing. But CHA has no firm plans to build anything at the site.

Kimble said he may refer the issue to the economic development committee.

Kimble will step down as interim manager on Dec. 1, when Marcus Jones takes over as manager. Jones, who is the city manager in Norfolk, Va., was hired by council in October.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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