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 |

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: September 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:

    North Carolina State economist compares the economic performance of North Carolina versus South Carolina: ‪ 

    President of North Carolina Community Colleges discusses the system’s role in economic development, recovery from the recession, and agreements with four year colleges: ‪ 

    Report on the economic development impact of the military on North Carolina: ‪ 

    Article about UNC Chapel Hill graduate student team in School of Government community revitalization course, working with Ahoskie, North Carolina: ‪ 

    New loan program in North Carolina for owners of affordable land trust homes (owner buys house only, land by 99 year ground lease): ‪  Read more »

  • Downtown Schools & CED

    yourschools0611_007A recent post on the CED blog discussed the relationships that make up a downtown public school. The Downtown School in Winston-Salem, NC demonstrates a school as an opportunity to add a level of vibrancy to the downtown area by mutually benefitting the students, parents, and myriad other organizations (business partners, local small businesses, etc.) that are stakeholders in a downtown school. Communities may have more questions about what it could look like to place schools and educational needs at the center of downtown community and economic development.  This post gives a rundown of some resources that could be useful in that exploration.

    One major Southern city that has explored downtown schools in recent years is Nashville, TN. In 2011, the Nashville Civic Design Center produced its findings regarding new schools in downtown Nashville. It touches on many of the opportunities that are presented by Winston-Salem’s downtown school — schools potentially attracting families to live in downtown, education as an element of urban sustainability, and schools playing into building a safer and healthier community. The report is certainly and reasonably Nashville-centric, but also presents a compelling examination of schools as assets for a downtown area. Read more »

  • Encouraging Environmental and Energy Improvements through Financing Programs

    At the beginning of September, the US EPA announced that it had awarded almost $2 million to 19 small businesses nationwide to develop and commercialize technologies that tackle critical environmental problems through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

    Through these types of programs, governments can encourage economic development through investing in firms working on environmental and energy improvement technology.  Governments can also encourage economic development by creating incentives for existing businesses to improve energy management and by helping to foster a market for energy improvements in residential properties. Read more »

  • 50 Years of HUD, and the Next 50 Years

    housing_and_urban_development_hud_shinkle_328Last week, HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) turned 50. As the department created to manage urban renewal back when most downtowns were experiencing extreme population decreases, where does the agency go now that city-living is once more in vogue? In this three-part series, the CED blog will take a look at where HUD has been, and in future posts, spotlight two of its newest initiatives meant to carry its work into the future.

    The America of 1965 was a vastly different place when HUD was created. In the decades following World War II, growth patterns emptied American cities of most upper and middle class families, who followed the promise of suburban life to the urban fringe. And with them, the economy left too. Those who were too poor to move were left to fend for themselves in an urban environment devoid of jobs, and opportunity, and public investment buoyed by a strong tax base.  Read more »

  • Cash Grants for Real Estate Developers without Competition for Jobs—A Constitutional Quandary

    shopping mall constructionA local real estate developer, Al Czervik, proposes to construct a mixed-use development with residential, office, and retail space. The city council likes the development plan because it is consistent with the council’s vision for the area. Czervik, seeing incentives being offered to convince companies to locate in North Carolina rather than other states, misses the significance of the competition element of those incentives and thinks his development, too, should receive incentives. He requests a $1 million cash grant ($100,000 per year for 10 years) from the city to “make the project work.” Czervik is unwilling to promise jobs, of course—because it is the tenants who will provide jobs, not his development—but he is confident that tenants with jobs will locate in the development and therefore he seeks a subsidy nonetheless. Czervik’s request gets the attention of the city attorney, who is well aware that this request rests on very shaky legal ground (as explained in this blog post and this law review article). How might the city attorney frame the legal issues for city council members, who are initially receptive to Czervik’s request? Read more »

  • So what’s the big deal with Micro-apartments?

    ULI, The Macro View on Micro Units: Patrick Kennedy, Panoramic Interests

    ULI, The Macro View on Micro Units: Patrick Kennedy, Panoramic Interests

    If you were to Google micro-apartments, articles about innovative projects in Seattle, Washington D.C., Boston, San Francisco or former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to solve the housing crisis in New York top the list. Seattle alone has 780 units already approved for occupancy and about 1,600 more in the pipeline as of March of 2015.

    Micro-apartments are a fledgling trend in these large, dense markets where premium prices are paid for space, but do micro-apartments have any place or marketability in smaller markets where real estate is not as scarce and rents are much lower?  Read more »

  • 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: ‪ 

    Commercial redevelopment initiative underway in East Durham, NC: ‪ 

    North Carolina recruiters launch a major effort to save state economic development incentives, JDIG (Job Development Investment Grants): ‪ 

    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://‪ 

    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: ‪   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 »

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