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Originally published: 2012-11-26 10:54:25
Last modified: 2012-11-26 10:54:25

Another developer takes shot at Clawson property

by Anna Oakes

Three months after the Boone Town Council denied rezoning for a 266-unit apartment complex planned for Clawson Street off of Perkinsville Drive, another developer is proposing a housing project at the site.

Bill Owen, senior site coordinator for Fayetteville-based United Developers, appeared at the Nov. 15 council meeting to request the scheduling of a public hearing on a conditional district rezoning request to allow for a multi-family affordable housing project.

According to the conditional district rezoning application submitted to the town Planning & Inspections Department, the project would consist of 72 apartments in six two-story buildings, with 36 two-bedroom units and 36 three-bedroom units.

The project would also include a children's playground and a clubhouse building with laundry facilities, multipurpose space, an office, kitchenette, game room, sitting porch and TV area.

Owen said United Developers has built, owned and managed affordable housing projects since 1979. He said the company works with the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency to secure tax credits awarded for affordable housing.

Town council members have repeatedly expressed a desire for more housing in Boone that is affordable and suitable for the workforce, professionals and families.

Rent at many apartment complexes in town is affordable for college students because it is split equally between three or four roommates, but families often cannot afford the same apartments, council members have said in the past.

At the Nov. 15 meeting, Councilman Rennie Brantz asked if United Developers' proposed project would be intended for families or for students.

"Students do not qualify," Owen replied.

"Some of our units will be for incomes up to 40 percent of the county median income, some up to 50 percent and some will be up to 60 percent," Owen said last week. "Students typically do not qualify for that -- from an income standpoint they would not. It's just not the tenants that we target."

Owen said United Developers commissioned a third-party market study of the area and concluded, "It is our opinion that there is a tremendous need for affordable rental housing in the Boone market."

He said that no project in Watauga County has ever received an affordable housing tax credit. United Developers has received a number of tax credit awards, as well as design awards from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

"There's certainly a need there," he said. "We think that we have the reputation of being the type of builder, owner and manager that they would be looking for."

Owen emphasized that a number of steps must fall into place before the project can move forward.

"All of this is based on a lot of things happening," he said, adding that United Developers is currently in negotiations with the property owner.

A public hearing on conditional district rezoning of the property is scheduled at 5 p.m.  Monday, Dec. 10, followed by the Boone Planning Commission's consideration and recommendations on the request. The council will consider the request at its regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13.

If rezoning is approved, United Developers will apply for an affordable housing tax credit in time for a January deadline.

The property is the former location of the Clawson Mobile Home Park, which closed in October.

In August, the council rejected the rezoning request for the 266-unit project at the site, citing concerns about density, impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and too much student housing.