Asheville – A new development on Long Shoals Drive off the northern shores of Julian Lake in Arden, providing affordable housing units in exchange for a $1.5 million city support, with 37 affordable apartments planned for an 186-unit development.
“They’re building where affordable housing isn’t usually built,” said Sasha Vertunsky, the city’s new affordable housing official. “The income is a little bit higher here, so it’s a great location to get more mixed income.”
Located at 221 Long Shoals Road, the 5.36-acre plot will include 186 apartments and community space in three apartment buildings, just south of Valley Springs Middle and Charles T. Koontz Middle Schools.
The grant application was considered on June 21 by the Housing and Community Development Committee, made up of three council members, Deputy Mayors Shenica Smith, Sage Turner and Anantette Mosley.
The committee unanimously approved the Land Use Incentive Grant, a city property tax relief program for affordable housing. Final approval rests with the Asheville City Council, which will discuss both LUIGI’s application and conditional zoning approval for the project at its July 26 meeting.
The Planning and Zoning Committee will review the conditional zoning on July 6.
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Of the 186 apartments, 20% or 37 affordable housing units will be granted for 20 years with an average income of 80% or less.
Asheville lists 80% of AMI as $42,100 for a family of one, and up to $60,100 for a family of four.
Nineteen of the units will accept housing choice vouchers, which Vrtunsky said helps people at or below 50% of AMI — about $263,000 for a one-person household.
She noted that as of April, the 186 vouchers available in Asheville will not be used. 100 of these were held by people in need of housing and unable to find units to accommodate them.
More units that accept vouchers will not only help these individuals, Vrtunsky said, but will also provide much-needed units in public housing.
Among the affordable planned units, there are 18 one-bedroom apartments and 19 studios. All one-bedroom units accept vouchers, along with one of the studios.
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The proposed project will also include one person from the city’s Homeless Name List, which identifies non-residential community members and their specific housing needs.
The project has qualified for 17 years of tax credits under the city’s LUIGI points system. The project earns points by meeting different requirements – such as deeper affordability rates, proximity to urban centers and transit or energy efficiency.
The three packages included in the project have a current tax value of $3,369,600
And he pays city property taxes about $13,579 annually.
Vrtunski estimates that $91,362 will be awarded to the developer annually for 17 years, for a total of $1.5 million, or a per-unit subsidy of $41,977. The project will only pay $13,579 in annual city taxes for these 17 years.
After year 17, the developer will pay the city $104,941 annually in full.
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If approved, 221 Long Shoals is one of several development projects proposed in the area, including 218 units proposed next to Ingles on Long Shoals Road, with the goal of targeting the “missing middle” of the housing market.
The project was approved by the planning and zoning commission on March 2, but developers haven’t rescheduled the city council session yet, according to Will Palmquist, an urban planner with the city.
Little discussion preceded LUIGI’s approval of 221 Long Shoals on June 21, but council member Sage Turner, chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee, said it was worth noting that the affordable unit offerings do not include two- or three-bedroom apartments.
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“I’m just highlighting that because I know we still see studies that say efficiency and a one-bedroom are the most needed, but also, when we don’t allocate any two-bedroom units, we don’t support bed sizes or what kind of larger family unit might You need more than one bedroom,” Turner said.
It is a topic that deserves to be revisited in the future, she said, and may be an aspect discussed when the committee considers changes to the current LUIGI policy, approved in June 2021.
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Smith also asked employees about public transportation options available along the Long Shoals, particularly if some units are targeting “high-needs populations,” such as veterans or homeless.
There is only one bus line, Vrtunsky said, and admitted it “wasn’t great,” with a frequency of over an hour. She said there were plans to increase the frequency to 45 minutes.
“That’s coming, but it’s not yet funded,” she said. Smith promised more details at the city council meeting.
Sarah Honosky is the city government reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. news tips? Email [email protected] or send a message on Twitter at @slhonosky.