Posts on Built Assets & Housing

Recent Posts |

  • Catawba County’s Innovative Water Service Partnership Model

    It seems like almost everyone, including regulators and utility organizations, recognize the benefits and need for expanded partnerships and collaboration in the water and wastewater sector. Small towns are finding it difficult to meet their growing infrastructure and regulatory needs and are talking with each other and their larger [more…]

  • Lessons for CED from Europe: Inclusive Communities and a New City-Run Food Pantry

    The photo was eerily familiar to anyone interested in CED.  The headline from the New York Times article on September 20, just days before the German national election, read, “Merkel Says Germans ‘Never Had It Better.’ But Many Feel Left Behind.”  The accompanying photo by Gordon Welters, shown here, features

  • 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 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…]

  • 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…]

  • 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…]

  • 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…].

  • 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…]

  • 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…]

  • 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…]

  • 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…]

  • 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…]

  • 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 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…]

  • Solar Schools and Environmental Finance

    North Carolina is one of the leading states in the country when it comes to installing solar energy. The growth of solar in North Carolina has been a fascinating opportunity to study the impact of different environmental finance systems. While the financial incentives and environmental finance systems available to [more…]

  • Biophilic Design, Part I

    Note: This is the first of three blog posts on biophilic design. Part 1 introduces the topic. Part 2 will discuss a case study on biophilic design. Part 3 will explore the idea of biophilic cities. Given complete freedom to choose their ideal home or office, people generally choose [more…]

  • Conveyance of Local Government Property for Affordable Housing

    A developer of affordable housing for low and moderate income persons has approached the City and County about an affordable housing project near the City’s downtown. The developer’s plan is to acquire and assemble two adjacent parcels—one owned by the City and one owned by the County—and then develop [more…]

  • Evictions: A vicious cycle for people in poverty

    Matthew Desmond has authored a scrupulously researched, stimulating and compelling book that should be of interest to everyone in the apartment industry, every low-income housing advocate, any student of American neighborhoods and every public official. Examinations of urban poverty are nothing new, but this study of the causes and [more…]

  • Mapping North Carolina’s Local Food Infrastructure

    Strengthening local food economies can be viewed as an important part of a holistic approach to community development. Local food can be a positive contributor to social capital, public health, environmental preservation, and overall quality of life. It also can be an important component of local economic development. In [more…]

  • Hope through Housing: A Model for Addressing Pressing Community Challenges

    In the Town of Carol-Blue, Donny, a local community developer, finds himself in a really tough position. Both the county and city budgets are constrained and the challenges the town face economically seem only to grow in size. After performing an analysis of senior housing demand, he realizes that [more…]

  • Finding the Hard Numbers for a Rising Problem: A Method of Calculating Demand for Affordable Senior Housing

    The supply of affordable senior rental housing is a growing concern across North Carolina.  The source of this problem is linked to North Carolina’s growing senior population and a rising overall demand for affordable rental housing. As mentioned in a previous blog post, by the year 2050, according to [more…]

  • Local Government Support for Privately Constructed Affordable Housing

    County officials from Tarheel County as well as City officials from the county seat were approached by two residential developers who are seeking to construct housing that is affordable to low and moderate income (LMI) persons. One developer, DoGooder Inc., is a private, for-profit developer who intends to construct [more…]

  • New Property Tax Exclusion for Developers

    The start of the 2016-2017 fiscal year will bring with it a new property tax exclusion aimed at residential and commercial development.  Known informally as the “builders’ inventory” exclusion, the new law was passed as S.L. 2015-223 and will be codified as G.S. 105-277.02. In today’s blog, I offer [more…]

  • Live Long and Prosper: Does CED Impact How Long We Live?

    I often think about ways in which local government matters in the daily lives of citizens. This month, a major study was released showing how local conditions, and community and economic development, infrastructure, and planning in particular, may have a direct impact on the most basic quality of life [more…]

  • Report: The Unintended Consequences of Housing Finance

    The Unintended Consequences of Housing Finance is a recent report by the Regional Plan Association that addresses the negative externalities of certain federal housing finance rules, and myriad methods to address these externalities through rule changes and amendments. Perhaps it is not immediately apparent how financing rules can have [more…]

  • Follow Procedures Prior to Acquiring Property for Redevelopment

    The Town of Renewville has ambitious redevelopment plans for several key—but tired and/or underdeveloped—properties along its Main Street. As we know from a prior post examining the limited situations in which a local government may discuss property acquisition in closed session, the Renewville town council intends to kick-start the [more…]

  • City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge Yields Six Innovative Comprehensive Economic Development Plans

    The City of Greensboro made history becoming the first city in the United States to award $1 million in a prize challenge for economic development. Joining a select group of cities to administer a prize challenge in collaboration with the federal government (White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong [more…]