The Tortoise, the Hare, and Demolition in Historic Districts

A few blocks from downtown in the town’s historic district sit two houses built [more…]

Conveyance of Local Government Property for Affordable Housing

A developer of affordable housing for low and moderate income persons has approached the [more…]

Notice and Hearing Requirements for Economic Development Appropriations

As discussed in a prior post, Session Law 2015-277 requires North Carolina local governments [more…]

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…]

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 |

  • Community Development through EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program

    Many of the local governments we assist at the Environmental Finance Center struggle to raise enough money to support their environmental services. Often, we work with these communities to improve the finance and management of their systems through better rate setting, cost controls, and long-term planning. But another solution for struggling communities is to increase and strengthen their customer base through community and economic development.

    EPA has a number of programs and resources aimed to revitalize communities through “Smart Growth” economic development, which builds upon existing assets, takes incremental actions to strengthen communities, and builds long-term value to attract a range of investments. In previous posts, we looked at aspects of EPA’s Smart Growth initiative including their new Framework tool for Small Cities and Towns as well as Smart Growth efforts here in North Carolina. This post examines another aspect of the Smart Growth initiative: the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

    Read more »

  • How a Mezzanine Loan Can Reduce Equity Requirements, Boost Returns, and Attract Investment to a Redevelopment Project

    The Parker Building is a two-story, 8,000-SF brick building in downtown Milliganton, NC. The building is subdivided into two small retail tenant spaces, but for the most part it is an empty shell. Despite having been mostly vacant for the last several decades, the building is in good shape.  A recent roof repair and functional heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning have kept the building from falling into disrepair. Read more »

  • Periodic Inspections, Permits, and Registration of Residential Rental Property: Changes in 2017

    Local governments establish residential rental property inspection, permit, and registration (IPR) programs to ensure that residential rental properties within their jurisdictions are maintained in a safe and decent condition. In recent years, the General Assembly has sought to protect code-compliant landlords from what legislators perceived as overly zealous IPR programs. The most recent legislation in this area, Session Law 2016-122, became effective on January 1, 2017, and is explained in Community and Economic Development bulletin #9. This blog post offers some highlights from the new law. CED Bulletin #9 should be consulted for more detail. Read more »

  • What is the “Greenest” Building? Making a Case for Building Reuse and Historic Preservation

    Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, NC: Gold LEED certified & Historic Preservation

    Carl Elefante, AIA, LEED AP, a prominent proponent of sustainable historic preservation, states, “The greenest building is the one that has already been built.”  Elefante’s declaration revolutionized the commonly-accepted theory that newer is better, both for society and for the environment. Elefante meant to dissuade public and private sectors from new construction and development, and to revalue existing and irreplaceable building stock. The preservation of historic structures has proven to be an effective tool towards economic, environmental, and social sustainability. However, the green movement, as it exists currently, stresses new construction rather than the preservation of existing resources, leading to implied preferences towards the touted sustainability of “green design.”  Read more »

  • Policy, Sports, and Economic Impact

    With the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend now behind us, it seems relevant to reflect on the impact state policy can have on economic and real estate development in cities and towns. NBA All-Star Weekend, an event held annually to highlight the skills and abilities of the best and most exciting players in the league, brings in an average of $117.2 million dollars of economic impact over the course of three days.

    As a result of the in-pouring of money the event brings, hosting it is highly sought after; competition between cities is fierce, with many footing the bill for major arena and infrastructure improvements to entice the committee’s selection. The 2015 selection for the 2017 location was no different. After agreeing to $40 million worth of improvements to their arena ($33.5 million of public investment) Charlotte, NC was selected. If Charlotte could achieve the average economic impact of the event, the investment into the arena would deliver a 293% return on investment. Read more »

  • What is the “special character” of the historic district?

    After a city or county establishes a historic district or historic landmark, the local historic preservation commission is authorized to prevent certain changes that “would be incongruous with the special character of the landmark or district.”  But, what is the special character? And what is incongruous with it?  This blog reviews applicable laws and cases to outline the procedural requirements for establishing the special character (through formal report, ordinance description, and design guidelines) and subsequently determining whether a particular change is incongruous (through a quasi-judicial evidentiary hearing). Read more »

  • Community Resilience Has Many Faces…Part 2

    The research project on community and regional resilience at the School of Government aims to help communities think differently about how they prepare for disasters and how they can become more resilient, providing data and information that can spark realistic conversations about a community’s future.  This blog looks at some of the main elements that determine resilience and vulnerability in North Carolina’s counties. Previous blogs, Strengthening Resilience in North Carolina’s Communities and Community Resilience Has Many Faces…Part 1 referred to a set of measurements that have been developed for resilience and vulnerability for every county in the United States. These look at four dimensions: economic, social, infrastructure, and environmental. This blog looks at the infrastructure and environmental dimensions, and sets out to answer the questions: what do these mean and how can they be measured? How do the four measures come together to describe community resilience? Read more »

  • A Little Slice of Heaven: A Primer on Air Rights in Development

    Common law holds that once person owns a piece of land “it is theirs all the way to Heaven.” In a modern development environment, however, the transfer of air rights—fee simple title to a three dimensional space located at a precisely defined location—between owners is becoming increasingly common. Today we will take a brief look into the uses of air rights in development and how they are transferred.

    While air rights in New York and Chicago have made headlines for years, air rights also play an important role in economic development in North Carolina. In particular, as communities of all sizes see value in creating a mix of uses in their downtown environments developers have sought to maximize value and lower risk through increasingly complex vertical ownership structures. Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading online: February 2017

    The 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:

    Why hasn’t North Carolina’s “largest, shovel-ready industrial site” landed a major company yet? ‪http://bit.ly/2kuvAYC 

    Over 377,000 North Carolina renter households experienced severe cost burdens and other housing-related issues in 2013, says report. http://unc.live/2mpl2vK

    School of Government faculty member Tyler Mulligan proposes a framework for judicial scrutiny of government subsidies for private development in the Harvard Law & Policy Review: ‪http://bit.ly/2lMmeb5 

    Other CED items:

    Thought manufacturing job losses were bad? Harvard Business School asks: could future service sector job losses be worse? http://hbs.me/2mpjZvS

    Federal Reserve Bank post examines how where you live impacts the availability and accessibility of good paying jobs that don’t require bachelor’s degree: http://bit.ly/2mplQ3w

    Research finds large corporate landlords more likely to evict tenants than small landlords in Atlanta: http://bit.ly/2m8YsGX

    Report asks: Are there enough building code inspectors to keep development safe and on pace? https://t.co/h9CPZOuiGr

    Op-ed explains the technical reasons why cellular technology (like 4G and next generation 5G) can’t reach rural areas without fiber backbone. ‪http://bit.ly/2l4iPBu  Read more »

  • What’s Old is New Again: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

    adusThe granny cottage, in-law suite, or guest apartment, among its various names, might seem like a quaint relic of the past. But proponents are touting the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) as the new frontier of housing development in an era of rising demand for diverse housing stock.

    Ranging in size, but averaging roughly 550 square feet, ADUs are large enough to be self-contained (equipped with bathroom, kitchen, etc.), but small enough to remain subordinate to the main house.  An ADU can be attached to the main dwelling with a separate exterior entrance or detached on a residential lot that is separate from the main dwelling—but either way smaller than the main unit; by  definition, an “accessory” to the home. (The Accessory Dwellings website includes a breadth of information on designs, costs and local permitting.)  Read more »

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