Posts on Community Development

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  • What’s the deal with modular construction?

    In May of this year, Marriott International announced that it would ramp up the use of modular construction in its hotels. Marriott said they anticipated signing on at least 50 hotels in 2017 alone that would be primarily modular, citing that this type of construction would enable them to [more…]

  • Legal and Business Reasons Why Downtown Development Programs Should Involve Secured Loans—Not Grants

    Dr. Blaine Beeper is a retired hospital administrator who was recently elected to council in the Town of Bushwood. Dr. Beeper thinks he has figured out how to jumpstart revitalization of Bushwood’s historic downtown. He proposes for the Town to offer annual cash grants to any owner who redevelops [more…]

  • Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs in North Carolina: Part II

    There are several ways for state and local leaders to promote investments in their communities and reduce utility costs for residents. One tool that has been often overlooked in North Carolina are Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. This post examines the benefits and drawbacks of commercial and residential PACE [more…]

  • Property Buy-Outs: A Good Option for Local Governments and Homeowners?

    The devastating impact of flooding is once more in the public spotlight following the unprecedented rainfall from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Nearer to home, residents in Princeville, Fair Bluff, Seven Springs, Windsor, Kinston and Lumberton NC are planning how to build stronger and safer after Hurricane Matthew last October [more…].

  • The Missing Middle: An Affordable Housing Solution?

    Throughout the United States, the cost of housing is rising faster than incomes. While there are many discussions taking place around this issue, an important one is how the types of housing being developed can have an impact on affordability, particularly in areas where demand is high – namely, [more…]

  • System Development Fees are the New Impact Fees

    As detailed here, in 2016, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that municipalities (and by analogy counties) lack the statutory authority to impose certain upfront charges for water and sewer services. Upfront charges are charges imposed on new or existing development before a property parcel is actually connected (or [more…]

  • One Neighborhood at a Time: The Incremental Development Alliance

    In the Town of Riverdale, Betty Cooper is taking a walk through her neighborhood. She notices the dilapidated structures and blight that plague the area, and thinks to herself, “someone should do something about this.” Is Betty just a disgruntled citizen…or a developer in the making? The Incremental Development [more…]

  • 4% LIHTC Use in North Carolina’s Triangle Region

    A Brief Introduction to the 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Development of low-income housing in the United States continues to be a challenge for local governments, affordable housing developers, and policy advocates. Institutional, market, and financing obstacles are all barriers to increasing the supply of affordable housing. Since the [more…]

  • How Should We Measure Community and Household Economic Conditions?

    One of the fundamental measures for CED officials to track is a community’s economic condition. This issue of measuring economic condition, whether for an entire community or a single household, has taken on a central role in policy discussions recently, ranging from an emphasis on income inequality in academic [more…]

  • Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs in North Carolina: Part I

    There are several ways for state and local leaders to promote investments in their communities and reduce utility costs for residents. One tool that has been often overlooked in North Carolina are Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. This post provides an overview of PACE programs and their history in [more…]

  • Our Shared Fate

    Our Shared Fate was the title of an Aspen Institute report from 2008, which argued that bridging the rural-urban divide created new opportunities for prosperity and equity.  A Brookings Institution report published in the previous year, made the case that rural and urban areas are interdependent and that national prosperity [more…]

  • Conveyance of property in a public-private partnership for a “downtown development project”

    Downtowns across America are experiencing a renaissance. Population growth in downtowns has outpaced growth in the broader regions in which those downtowns are located. North Carolina downtowns are likewise experiencing record growth. To capitalize on this renewed interest in downtowns, private developers and local governments are increasingly seeking to [more…]

  • Raleigh’s Moore Square Redevelopment

    When you think of highest and best use for real estate, public parks are often overlooked.  Even if a park is functioning as intended, it still might have potential to serve the community in a greater capacity while adding benefit to the surrounding area. If the purpose of a [more…]

  • Community Resilience: Some Practical Questions

    The research project on community 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. This is the fourth blog in a series that looks at what enhancing resilience means for North Carolina’s communities [more…].

  • 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 [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 [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 [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, [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, [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 [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.

  • Making the Case for Affordable Housing: Using BLS Statistics to ask Hard Questions About Salaries vs. Local Housing Costs

    Last year, nursing assistants in Goldsboro earned $11.83 an hour (median wage) for a mean annual salary of $24,610.  Is this a sufficient wage to sustain a person who wants to live and work there? Affordable housing for different demographic groups in North Carolina communities has been discussed in [more…]

  • Healthy Corner Store Initiatives

    There are a variety of policy tools being deployed to deal with so-called food deserts—neighborhoods that lack full-service grocery stores and have higher incidence of diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes. From offering financial incentives to encourage the construction of new grocery stores to promoting and incentivizing visits to [more…]

  • May a City Mow an Overgrown Lot without a Court Order?

    The Town of Manicure has been working hard to revitalize the historic neighborhood adjacent to downtown. As part of the effort to improve conditions in this and other neighborhoods, the town has been more vigilant in enforcing its overgrown lot ordinance, which prohibits property owners from allowing grass and [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading online: March 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: Overview of workforce development [more…]

  • 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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [more…]

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

    The 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 [more…]

  • Solar Power Heating Up in Commercial Real Estate

    The cost of installing solar panels has been in steady decline since 2010, and the residential market for solar panel installations on home roofs is experiencing rapid growth. With growing demand and several policy incentives for solar installations, incorporating solar power into real estate development projects can be an [more…]

  • Local Governments and Non-Profits: Building Community Through Partnership

    NBC News recently aired a short feel-good story during its Nightly News broadcast about a code enforcement officer working for the City of Petaluma, California. Joe Garcia had received multiple complaints about a dilapidated home surrounded by overgrown weeds. Clearly the home was out of compliance, and so the natural [more…]

  • One City, Two Public Markets: Case Studies of Success and Failure in Portland, Maine

    Public Markets are often used as a tool in downtown revitalization. They are attractive uses for vacant building with large footprints and bring high value and high-demand local food options to consumers, drive foot traffic, and catalyze new development. In the last 20 years, Portland, Maine, has seen two [more…]

  • Biophilic Design, Part III: Cities

    Biophilic design offers solutions in the face of a world that is quickly urbanizing and taxing our health, our wallets, and our environment. Compared with more rural settings, urban environments make people more stressed, do greater harm to the environment, and cost their taxpayers more money. There are costs [more…]

  • Does affordable housing negatively impact nearby property values?

    Despite public perceptions of affordable housing negatively impacting nearby property values, there is evidence to suggest that the impact is minimal if at all. Trulia, an online residential real estate site, recently conducted a study indicating that low-income housing tax credit (read more on LIHTC here) projects have no [more…]

  • The Birth of a New Federal Water and Wastewater Financing Program — WIFIA Arrives

    What is WIFIA? WIFIA stands for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the name of the federal act that authorized an interesting new federally managed water and wastewater infrastructure funding mechanism. WIFIA includes both direct loans and a new credit enhancement/guarantee mechanism (more on WIFIA guarantees in a [more…]

  • Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas

    The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area (NRSA) designation was established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1995. The intent of the program is to address economic development and housing needs within economically disadvantaged communities. To achieve NRSA status, a municipality must file an application in [more…]

  • Current Positive Economic News? Cheer, Then Take a Breath and Look Deeper at the Divided NC Economy

    There have been numerous national reports of positive economic information over the past six months. Unemployment is low, economic growth is steady and even growing, jobs are being created and 10 years later, we are finally moving beyond the devastating impacts of the recession. It would appear that CED [more…]

  • Community Resilience Has Many Faces… Part 1

    The 2016 Disaster Recovery Act was signed into law in December 2016 and provides over $200 million to help recovery after Hurricane Matthew and the wildfires in western North Carolina. This appropriation is intended to cover needs not met by Federal disaster recovery funds allocated to the state in [more…]

  • Interim Evaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)

    RAD, or the Rental Assistance Demonstration program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may not be as radical in its approach to preserving low-income housing as its acronym suggests, but an interim evaluation of the pilot program indicates it shows promise.

  • Reshaping Suburban Spaces

    There is no constant in community. Population ebbs and flows; market preferences shift; the economy fluctuates. Each community evolves. In many suburban places across North Carolina—indeed, across the U.S.—that evolution includes a move toward more density, more mixed uses, and more connected neighborhoods. Communities are grappling with questions about [more…]

  • Biophilic Design, Part II: Case Study

    Note: This is the second of three blog posts on biophilic design, a design philosophy that seeks to incorporates nature into man-made spaces. Part 1 introduced the topic of biophilic design. This post, Part 2, discusses a case study on biophilic design. Part 3 will explore the idea of [more…]

  • The Power of Partnership: The Case of the NC Commerce Park in Alamance County

    The N.C. Commerce Park in Alamance County, North Carolina is an economic development success story that underscores how vital interlocal and regional collaboration is for community and economic development. It highlights the power of partnership and also the importance of local leaders that share a collaborative mindset.

  • Strengthening Resilience in North Carolina’s Communities

    Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath underscore the urgent need to find ways to encourage communities to think differently about how they prepare for disasters and how they can become more resilient. Part of this is having data and information that can spark realistic conversations about a community’s future.  Another [more…]

  • The Smart Growth Program in North Carolina

    In September, my colleague Glenn Barnes shared resources from EPA on “smart growth” economic development. This approach to economic develop helps protect human health and the natural environment, while making communities more attractive, economically stronger, and more socially diverse. Smart Growth can take many different forms, from planning and zoning [more…]

  • The Past, Present, and Future of Wood Construction

    Did you know that the world’s oldest wooden structure is found in Japan, the Horyu Temple, and has managed to withstand rain, wind, and earthquakes for over 1,300 years? Although wood construction dates all the way back to Stone Age! For thousands of years’ humans have relied on wood [more…]

  • The Tortoise, the Hare, and Demolition in Historic Districts

    A few blocks from downtown in the town’s historic district sit two houses built in the early twentieth century: the Hare House and the Tortoise House. The houses retain their historic elements and contribute to the architectural character of the neighborhood. While the houses have seen better days, they [more…]

  • Historic Mill Redevelopment: Taylors Mill

    In this post, CED will continue to look at the impact that redevelopment of historic mills can have on local communities. In previous posts the CED blog examined how historic tax credits can help finance adaptive reuse projects like the Renfro Mill and Monroe Hardware Warehouse. This post will take a closer look [more…]

  • North Carolina Education and Workforce Development: Work Ready Communities

    A powerful common denominator between economic development and human capital development is education. Communities with well-regarded schools incentivize businesses to be recruited to an area to make use of local talent. It is a cycle in which the economic vitality of an area is contingent upon the strength of [more…]