Several Carrboro Board of Aldermen members raised concerns about affordable housing in the new Shelton Station development while discussing their economic development report at Tuesday's meeting.
Shelton Station sits on North Greensboro Street in Carrboro. It is a mixed-use development, with 22,716 square feet of commercial space and 94 one- and two-bedroom apartments. Of those 94 residences, 19 are allotted as affordable housing units.
At the Board of Aldermen meeting, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said she was eager to add these affordable housing units to Carrboro.
“In the permit we’ve specified requirement of a certain number of affordable housing,” she said.
There was some confusion, however, around the qualifications for affordable housing and what tenants would meet the benchmarks to live there.
“There’s a disagreement over what fair numbers are,” said Jacquelyn Gist, a member of the Board of Aldermen.
Town of Carrboro Planning Director Trish McGuire clarified that 10 percent of the units were to be affordable for people at 60 percent of the median income, and another 10 percent affordable to those at 80 percent of the median income. The median household income for Carrboro is $53,513, according to Data USA.
“The question now is figuring out what the fair market rent is,” she said.
Since the units are for rent and not for purchase, McGuire said they’re working on factoring in utilities to determine the correct definition of "affordable."
“It’s really just a question about determining what the measurement is for affordable housing,” she said.
Gist raised other concerns about who would qualify for the housing, specifically around students who may qualify based on their personal income, but whose parental input is not accounted for. Section 8 assistance is limited to those over 24 years old and does not extend to students enrolled in institutions of higher education, but Gist emphasized the units are intended for those in need of affordable housing.
“We just have to make sure that things are as ironclad as possible to make sure that the units are going to the people who they were really meant for,” she said.
Eller Capital Partners, a housing development group based in Chapel Hill, has been selected to manage the apartments. Pre-leasing has already begun, although Board of Aldermen member Barbara Foushee asked whether the affordable housing units would be managed by Eller Capital or by some affordable housing-specific management group. Town Manager David Andrews said he would find out and report back to the board with that information.
“Of course, we know it’s on the permit,” said Lavelle. “But I know we’d all be curious about that.”
“I think the main issue is over the amount of rent they’re charging,” Andrews said.
The commercial area of Shelton Station is already 80 percent occupied by UNC Horizons, a substance abuse program for pregnant or parenting women, and Figure 8 Films, a television production company. The construction of the residential units is expected to be completed by April 1.
Other projects on the economic development report included South Green Shopping Center on South Greensboro Street, whose tenants already include Atlas Taco Bar, Craftboro Brewing Depot, Nailz salon and Coronato pizza. A Hilton Garden Inn is planned to be behind East Main Square shopping center, but the report stated that construction is on hold until further notice.
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