Kinston, NC

Development Finance Initiative: Rebuilding North Carolina one town at a time – Southern City

This article was originally published in the November/December edition of Southern City, as “Rebuilding [more…]
Aerial downtown

How a North Carolina Local Government Can Operate a Land Bank for Redevelopment

If America’s cities and towns are to realize their greatest potential as attractive and [more…]
Shell building under construction 2

When May NC Local Governments Pay an Economic Development Incentive?

News outlets regularly report about the latest company that was lured to North Carolina [more…]
maureen joy

Historic School Redevelopment (Durham, NC)

Yesterday, Sept 4th, community leaders, elected officials, school administrators and a team from Self-Help [more…]

The Community and Economic Development program at the School of Government provides public officials with training, research, and assistance that support local efforts to create jobs and wealth, expand the tax base, and maintain vibrant communities. We deploy the resources of the University to support the development goals of communities in North Carolina.

Recent Blog Posts |

  • How a Local Government Loan Can Make a Revitalization Project Possible

    historic commercial bldgAn historic manufacturing building in the town of Sunrise, North Carolina, is in disrepair. There are holes in the roof, standing water in the basement. Residents treasure the 3,500 square foot building and public officials want to see it redeveloped and contribute to the revitalization of their historic downtown, but they haven’t been able to figure out how. At the urging of councilmembers, Town Manager Estella Perez makes the project a priority.

    Her staff estimates that the building will cost about $620,000 to acquire and redevelop into office space. This includes hard costs related to roof repair and general construction as well as soft costs such as architectural, engineering, and legal services. The town isn’t ready to make an investment of that size, but perhaps a private developer could be convinced to take on the project. She turns to a graduate student team in the Community Revitalization course at the School of Government for assistance with evaluating the financial feasibility of redevelopment.

    The student team approaches the project from the perspective of a private developer. The team determines that the bulk of the redevelopment costs can be financed through a traditional bank loan. The team assumes that a private developer could receive a primary loan of about $215,000, or 75 percent of the expected value of the building once it is fully leased to tenants.

    The team also assumes that, because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, the project will qualify for historic rehabilitation tax credits that will contribute around $160,000 in equity for the project. The use of tax credits means that the building must be held for the first six years after it’s developed, but the student team’s calculations assume that it would then be sold, resulting in a large amount of income after six years. Read more »

  • Annexation Agreements for Economic Development – Not an Option

    The City of Promiseland has been in discussions with a developer about a property just outside the city that is perfect for a small business center. The city is willing to extend water and sewer services to the property, and according to the city’s policy, will require the developer to petition for annexation. The property is subject to county zoning (currently, agricultural and low density residential uses), so the developer will expect the city to annex the property and rezone it for commercial use. The developer also wants to make sure the annexation takes places as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the inside rates for water and sewer, and the other city services that will be necessary for the project to be marketable. The lawyers are ready to put all of these conditions into a development agreement along these lines: City agrees to annex the property, rezone the property and extend water and sewer services and other services under existing city rates and policies; developer agrees to petition for annexation, apply for rezoning, and construct the project according to the parameters set out in the agreement. There’s just one problem: This agreement is not legally enforceable in North Carolina because the city’s promises to take legislative action are not binding on the board that made them or on any future boards. Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: August 2015

    CED_Icon_for_Twitter1The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates.

    Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

    Local businesses in Scotland County, NC create an unorthodox incentive package to recruit new industry and boost the local economy: ‪http://bit.ly/1Ii4Axg 

    Commercial redevelopment initiative underway in East Durham, NC: ‪http://bit.ly/1KJXJCC 

    North Carolina recruiters launch a major effort to save state economic development incentives, JDIG (Job Development Investment Grants): ‪http://bit.ly/1J2M8yg 

    A U.S. Travel Association study shows that tourism spending is on the rise in North Carolina, suggesting investments in the state’s cultural and natural assets are paying off: http://‪bit.ly/1UE6sbq 

    The Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular 50-year-old conservation program with bipartisan support that preserves natural resources in North Carolina, will shut down by the end of September unless Congress renews it: ‪http://avlne.ws/1K53ERs   Read more »

  • DFI Case Study: Attracting Private Investment for the Redevelopment of a Downtown Parking Deck

    Water-St-Deck_aerial_sizedThe City of Wilmington, North Carolina, hired the Development Finance Initiative (DFI) in 2013 to conduct a pre-development process for the Water Street Parking Deck. The parking deck is an aging public parking facility prominently located in the city’s historic downtown on the Cape Fear riverfront.

    Wilmington is one of North Carolina’s largest and fastest growing cities and a popular tourist destination. Its downtown area is an economic and social hub for the region. With a nearly 300-block historic district, the area includes cobblestone streets with ancient trees and lovingly restored historic homes, restaurants, shops, music and art venues, hotels, a river walk, a college campus, and a convention center.

    The Challenge

    The two-story Water Street Parking Deck was constructed in the 1960s and sits on 1.2 acres along Water Street overlooking the Cape Fear River. Though it is nearing functional obsolescence, the parking deck serves as primary public parking for tourists and locals alike. Surrounded by vibrant retail and entertainment businesses, the parking deck is an eyesore.

    City officials long believed that a parking structure alone was not the highest and best use for the high-profile location. They envisioned a future for the site that would spur additional private investment while respecting the historic fabric of the surrounding built environment.  Read more »

  • Working Across Boundaries: The Tryon International Equestrian Center

    Source: http://tryon.coth.com

    Source: http://tryon.coth.com

    I’d like to recommend a recent article in the Palm Beach Post that tells the story of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, located in Polk County, North Carolina. It is framed as a “missed opportunity” for the City of Wellington, Florida. Wellington is already a major player in the equestrian world, but missed the chance to host this new “Disneyland for equestrians” due to “a paralyzing political climate” and a lack of the kind of capacity for collaboration that this project required. On the other hand, it is a story of how working across boundaries is critically important in economic development.

    Read more »

  • The Downtown School

    PromiseSchool may still be out for summer, but the CED blog is taking another look at the role that education plays in community and economic development. As earlier posts on teacher housing developments, downtown community colleges, an, most recently, the repurposing of historic school buildings have examined, education can play a very important role in creating vibrant, thriving communities — places where people can live, work, play and learn.

    In Winston-Salem, one can see those four ingredients all in action at The Downtown School, a public school serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS) district. Housed in a 1925 building that was formerly part of the City Market in downtown Winston-Salem, the school is an example of what it may look like for a public school to be at the heart of a downtown. Read more »

  • Can you feel it Coming in the Air? Rural Economic Development and Wind Farms

    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/g49k6/picture27159454/ALTERNATES/FREE_640/IR-0045_01-2007Money may not literally grow on trees, but a glance at North Carolina’s rural economies reveals that cash crops sprout not just in our long-cultivated cotton and tobacco fields: they now also root in the steep hillsides of northwestern Christmas tree farms and navigate the waters flowing through the mountains and along the coast. The recent unveiling of plans for a large wind farm in northeastern North Carolina point to the air above farmland as the growing medium for the state’s newest cash crop. Just how excited should wind-tousled economic developers and public officials be?

    Windfall Revenues

    In mid-July, Amazon, the online retail giant, and Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables announced that they would build a 34-square-mile wind farm in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties. The 104 turbines that make up the first phase of the so-called Amazon Wind Farm US East will provide electricity for use by Amazon data centers in Virginia and Ohio beginning in December 2016. When fully built, the wind farm will have 150 turbines.  Read more »

  • What’s the Deal with Certified Sites?

    Local officials and economic developers increasingly seek to have certain industrial sites designated as “certified”. But what does that mean exactly? What does the process of getting an industrial site certified entail? Who does the certification? What difference, if any, does certification make? Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: July 2015

    CED_Icon_for_TwitterThe following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates.

    Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

    In-depth report compares the riverfront redevelopment potential in Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC: http://avlne.ws/1H2lWwx

    Will North Carolina’s Golden Leaf Foundation receive funding once again for its economic development grants and programs? http://bit.ly/1gjr8Xl

    Local news report describes textile industry cluster in Lincoln County, NC and the role of its county economic development corporation: http://bit.ly/1dIVAYX

    News & Observer article on NC Senate budget proposal that could impact Municipal Service Districts: if 15% of registered voters within the district petitioned for a referendum, voters living within the district boundaries would vote on whether to end the special tax and the services it funds: http://bit.ly/1MarXvE

    Federal Reserve System release new list of census tracts, many of which are in North Carolina, where banks receive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit for revitalization: http://1.usa.gov/1HwW9xK

    Rocky Mount, NC Brewmill redevelopment project has its first two tenants: a brewery and a business accelerator: http://bit.ly/1Ka0eLs Read more »

  • Five Dangerous Myths for Small Water Systems

    Small water systems serving 10,000 people or less comprise more than 94% of our nation’s public water systems. They are a large and diverse group, and are managed by a wide variety actors – from local and tribal governments, to mobile home park owners, to homeowners associations, to shopping mall operators and hotel managers. These managers often have many other, very different responsibilities and often face challenges in running the water system. In 2011, 25 percent of the nation’s smallest systems violated health-based standards in part due to their geographic isolation, small staff size, growing infrastructure needs and small customer bases. And as we wrote about earlier this year, small water systems with financial difficulties are more likely to have violations.

    Since 2012, the Environmental Finance Center at UNC and the Environmental Finance Center Network have been working to help educate and build financial and managerial capacity within small water systems. Through our work under the Smart Management for Small Water Systems Project, we’ve noticed 5 dangerous myths in financial planning. These myths can appear wherever water system planning occurs, but seem to be most prevalent among smaller communities that are considering creating a new or significantly expanded water system.

    Read more »

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