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 |

  • The Value of Greenways

    In an increasingly digital world, the economic fortunes of a community can be dependent on a quality of life it provides to residents. Investments in greenway systems — trails lined with trees, vegetation, or other natural features — are a way that some local governments choose to enhance quality of life by providing recreational opportunities and leveraging underutilized amenities. Greenways often following a natural feature such as a river or disused railroad bed.

    Boston’s Emerald Necklace, constructed in the 1880’s is usually recognized as the first major U.S. greenway, and connects 1,100 acres of parks through seven miles of trail. More recent examples include New York City’s High Line or Atlanta’s BeltLine. Many North Carolina communities, large and small, have made public investments in greenways. Kinston, for example, recently completed the first phase of its downtown Arts Riverwalk and Durham has over 30 miles of greenways and trails within its City limits. As communities build or expand greenways, they should understand and consider the value of these trails can bring. Read more »

  • Renewables: Beyond Traditional Small Scale Applications

    When people think about renewable energy for their homes and businesses, the first option that comes to mind is building a traditional solar panel array. Whether on their roof or on the ground, these systems provide clean solar energy and are eligible for different incentive programs. Nevertheless, that is not the only option available. In an industry that has seen rapid innovation and an overall drop in prices, companies have been quick in exploiting more ways in which to create value. This post, the first in a 2-part series, will explore new innovations in solar canopies, roofs, and even shingles. Read more »

  • A Closer Look at Multifamily Construction Types

    A recent blog post examined the benefits of wood-framed construction. However, in the few months that have lapsed between that article and this post, The Metropolitan, a 241-unit apartment building under development in Raleigh inexplicably caught fire and subsequently burned to the ground, causing severe damage to several adjacent buildings in the process. Due to the hard work and heroism of The Raleigh Fire Department, thankfully no loss of life occurred. However, the fact that this was the largest fire in the City of Raleigh for nearly a century has North Carolina residents wondering if wood-framed construction is really safe. So today, the CED blog will try to answer this question by examining different construction materials and the tradeoffs associated with each. Read more »

  • Fighting Blight with Property Tax Bills

    How can a city more effectively fight blight—vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated housing? The city of High Point tried to find some answers last year with help from the Center for Community Progress and the UNC School of Government.

    My economic development expert-colleague Tyler Mulligan and I were honored to play a part in this extensive effort that included a variety of city departments, Guilford County officials, and neighborhood organizations. Tyler focused on how best to navigate housing code enforcement law. My focus was on how best to use property tax collection remedies to recoup housing code enforcement costs.  You can read the full report produced by the Center for Community Progress here; today’s blog summarizes the relevant property tax collection issues.

    My best advice to High Point and other cities combating blight was simple: use your property tax bills! Read more »

  • Boosting LIHTC: Difficult Development Areas & Qualified Census Tracts

    The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program was designed to encourage the private development of affordable rental housing in the United States. (If you are new to LIHTC, check out the CED blog’s primer on low-income housing tax credits before proceeding.)   But even with the dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability, affordable rental development is constrained in some areas by high costs or concentrations of low-income households.

    To incentivize private developers into these “hard-to-serve” areas, the U.S. Congress mandates that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designate special zones that can receive higher credit allocations.  Projects situated in a Difficult Development Area or Qualified Census Tract qualify for a 30% boost in the LIHTC eligible basis, a significant increase in equity for a project. The eligible basis includes development costs that are subject to depreciation such as new construction, rehabilitation, and building acquisition and excludes costs such as land acquisition. Read more »

  • New Resource on the Role of Local Elected Officials in Economic Development

    The National League of Cities (NLC) recently released a guide to help local elected leaders better understand economic development and their role in the process.  Produced in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), What You Should Know 2.0: Elected Leaders and Economic Development, updates an earlier guide that is titled The Role of Local Elected Officials in Economic Development: 10 Things You Should KnowRead more »

  • The Challenges of Movie Theater Redevelopment

    In the age of video-on-demand and digital projection, many movie theaters across the world have found themselves stuck in the past, struggling to adapt to the advancements in technology and consumer reference. With the costs associated with transitioning theaters into fully functioning digital cinemas often surpassing the $100,000 mark, it has been estimated that up to 1 in 5 of the theaters in the USA will end up permanently closing their doors. Theaters that at one time were prized jewels of their communities, will cease to operate, leaving behind dark, strange, and empty voids, not only in the fabric of the community, but also physically in the empty building space left behind. Previous posts on the CED blog (links here and here) have explored how historic theaters can be redeveloped in line with their original use through a public-private partnership — a movie theater or a performing arts space. This post will explore other uses for historic theaters. Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading online: April 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:

    The UNC SOG’s Development Finance Initiative (DFI) attracts developer proposals for the rehabilitation of a historic mill in Hendersonville. No illegal grants offered by city to support redevelopment: http://bit.ly/2pFVCLT

    Great example of cultural asset building in Western North Carolina: an online resource for craft trails to connect visitors with artisan craft businesses. http://bit.ly/2ptzrHN

    2/3 of North Carolina business owners applying for SBA disaster recovery loans were denied, hampering recovery of small towns: http://bit.ly/2qeMAVX

    Other CED items:

    Options for reforming Community Development Block Grants, known as CDBG. http://bit.ly/2oRDfzB 

    New Urban Institute report outlines the connections between urban blight and public health, offers policy and program recommendations to strengthen these connections: http://urbn.is/2oEXEIY

    How can a community prevent the last bank from leaving a small town? Rural banking forum and white paper offers recommendations: http://bit.ly/2qmtOs4

    Mark Shelburne reviews studies that examine effects of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) affordable housing on surrounding property values. http://bit.ly/2oIBunR 

    How the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) negotiates with banks for more community development lending to underserved areas per CRA requirements: http://bit.ly/2pbS5TZ Read more »

  • Utility Customer Assistance Partnerships

    Reports such as the recently released American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card shine light on the critical infrastructure investment needs facing communities throughout the country. Given recent funding trends and future state and federal fiscal challenges, local utility customers will likely carry most of the responsibility for paying for these infrastructure upgrades. While the price of water and wastewater services is relatively modest, many households still find meeting their monthly obligations difficult. Even the wealthiest communities in the state have low income communities that may be challenged to pay their bills now and in the future. Read more »

  • Fitwel, a Health Promoting Building Certification – Part 1 of 2

    Rating systems have helped make buildings more energy efficient over the last two decades, but they overlooked something important: the well-being of the people inside those buildings. ‘Health and wellness’ is an emerging concept that strives to change that, by redirecting the focus to building occupants. Read more »

Follow @sog_ced