Student Housing Stakeholder Group Meeting Postponed

A Student Housing stakeholder group scheduled for this Wednesday night has been postponed by City staff, presumably to continue a review of federal Fair Housing regulations that would permit single-bedroom leases. At the present time, no new date has been given for the meeting.

The stakeholder group has been meeting for the past three months to consider a new zoning category for “student housing,” and discuss whether the city should permit leasing by the room. Because a growing number of multifamily communities around UNCC, Johnson C. Smith University and Queens College offer single-room leases, planners hope to introduce a text amendment in the next few months to address this use.

At an October 17 informational meeting attended by multifamily developer and university representatives, city staff said the initiative was spurred by safety issues raised by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), which have also been participating in the stakeholder process. CMPD has suggested that unregulated student housing that leases by the bedroom is becoming a default low-income housing option for non-students, leading to crime issues in university areas.

Stakeholders have been discussing whether existing multifamily parking requirements should be modified in a new Student Housing category, to accommodate the higher number of cars at each multiroom unit. The full presentations from past Stakeholder Group meetings, along with other information about the Student Housing stakeholder effort, are available HERE.

City Council Approves Density Bonus Incentive to Encourage Single-Family Inclusionary Housing

Inclusionary HousingOn Tuesday night, the Charlotte City Council unanimously approved a zoning ordinance text amendment that creates a single-family density bonus of up to 3 units per acre above the base zoning density for developments in targeted areas of the city where median home values currently exceed $153,000. This bonus may be elected by right (no rezoning required) in the R-3, R-4, R-5, and R-6 zoning districts, as long as at least 50% of the additional units allowed by the bonus are priced within reach of buyers earning no more than 80% of Area Median Income (currently $168,000 for a family of 4).

Other elements of the text amendment include:

  • Reduced development standards, including smaller front and rear-yard setbacks, and the ability to apply the cluster provisions for lot size and lot width of the zoning category.
  • Ability to include duplex, triplex, and quadraplex buildings within a subdivision, as long as they are on internal lots and make up no more than 50% of the bonus units in the development.
  • The total number of affordable units shall to exceed 25% of total housing units in the development.
  • The exterior of all affordable units within the development must blend in architecturally with the market-rate product (similar roof pitches, foundations, window types, building materials).
  • To ensure continued affordability, the City or a nonprofit housing agency shall have first right of refusal on the purchase of any affordable unit following the initial sale, and any rental properties in the development must remain affordable for a 15-year period.

REBIC and our member associations were instrumental in the development of this voluntary, incentive-based program, and were in full support of its adoption.  We believe it provides an opportunity for the city to encourage the construction of affordable housing in specific areas of Charlotte where that supply is quickly disappearing, including South Park, Ballantyne and Steele Creek. For builders and developers, it offers a way to achieve higher residential densities with no rezoning, while serving a segment of the market that would not otherwise be able to buy in some of the most desirable areas of our community.

You can download a copy of the approved ordinance HERE.

Park Woodlawn Area Plan Draft Now Available

Park Woodlawn APThe Charlotte Planning Department recently released a draft of the Park-Woodlawn Area Plan, and will hold a public meeting next Tuesday evening to discuss their proposal and get feedback. You can download a copy of the draft plan HERE.

The area plan is the product of a yearlong effort to formulate land use, design and transportation policies for the Park Road corridor, between Dilworth and South Park (see map HERE). When adopted by City Council, it will be used as a guide to evaluate zoning and development proposals, as well as future public infrastructure investments.

Some of the key land use policies in the draft include:

  • Encourage a mix of well-designed land uses to create a neighborhood-scale mixed-use district in the Activity Center
  • Encourage infill development at an appropriate scale with the surrounding neighborhoods
  • Limit infill development in the Wedge Area to protect the character of the existing single-family neighborhoods
  • Provide bicycle and pedestrian connections on ROWs that were not developed as streets
  • Minimize impacts to the tree canopy
  • Integrate functional open space into new development

Property owners in the area covered by the plan are strongly encouraged to review the full proposal to understand the impacts on their property and any future redevelopment prospects. REBIC has identified a number of areas of concern with the draft language, and will be on hand next week to represent the interests of the real estate industry.

Park-Woodlawn Area Plan Meeting

Tuesday, January 29 at 6 p.m.

Park Road Baptist Church, 3900 Park Road in Charlotte

 

 

Joel Kotkin Discusses Urban Policy & Household Growth Trends at 2013 REBIC Forum

Kotkin 3

Author Joel Kotkin gives his address at the 2013 REBIC Forum

Nearly 200 Realtors®, home builders, developers, planners and community leaders gathered last Wednesday at UNCC’s Center City Building to hear noted author, demographer and urban theorist Joel Kotkin describe his vision for how America will grow in the coming decades, and how cities like Charlotte can position themselves for a coming population boom.

A Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, California, Kotkin recently published his latest book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, which describes the changing nature of the American household and the implications it has on urban growth. In his lecture, Kotkin explained that, while American households are becoming both more diverse and more multi-generational, their preference for suburban living only continues to increase.

That perspective is in sharp contrast to the case made by many Smart Growth advocates, who argue that an increasingly large number of Americans are abandoning suburban life for a return to the city, where jobs, restaurants and amenities are just a short from home. Relying on a mix of census data and consumer preference surveys, Kotkin made the case that the majority of consumers want a detached, single-family home outside the urban core, and that the changing nature of employment and the increased in teleworking options help make this an increasingly attainable choice.

Charlotte, he said, is particularly well positioned to take advantage of this trend, with its vibrant suburbs, affordable cost of living, and strong employment base. He labels us an ‘aspirational city,’ where middle- and working-class people can migrate and find opportunities to make their life better.

“A family moving from Singapore doesn’t come to America to live in a 600-square-foot apartment in the middle of the city,” he said. “If they wanted that lifestyle, they could have stayed in Singapore.”

More than 200 people attended the REBIC Forum to hear Kotkin speak

More than 200 people attended the 2013 REBIC Forum to hear Kotkin’s lecture

Challenging (and occasionally offending) elected officials, developers and planners, Kotkin argued that cities needed to focus more on enhancing their suburban and exurban neighborhoods, instead of trying to push for higher densities and a return to the urban core. Transit strategies, he said, should focus on mobility and access for the working poor, not on providing economic incentives for developers.

“What lures skilled workers,” he said, “is not gourmet restaurants, art museums and trendy nightclubs, but family-friendly communities close to work, good jobs, and affordable housing.”

REBIC appreciates the participation of all our partners who helped bring Kotkin to Charlotte for our 2013 Forum, including, the Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association, the Piedmont Public Policy Institute, UNC Charlotte, and True Homes. We look forward to continuing this important dialogue about how our region grows, and to finding ways to ensure Charlotte remains one of the most attractive cities in America to live, work, and raise a family.

To download Kotkin’s slide presentation from Wednesday, click HERE.

 

Council to Consider Proposal for Multifamily Inclusionary Housing Incentive

Student Housing
On Tuesday night, January 22, the Charlotte City Council will consider a proposed text amendment that would provide a multifamily density bonus of up to 5 units per acre above the base zoning density for developments in targeted areas of the city where median home values currently exceed $153,000.

In the R8-MF zoning district, developers can receive a by right density bonus (no rezoning required) of 2 units per acre, and in the R-12MF zoning districts, the bonus increases to 3 units per acre (a total of 15 upa). Developers in those districts can also take a density bonus of an additional 2 units per acre if their site is located within 1/4 mile of a transit stop (bus or rail).

The density incentives are available as long as at least 50% of the additional units allowed by the bonus are priced within reach of buyers or renters earning no more than 80% of Area Median Income (currently $168,000 for a family of 4). In addition, 50% of the affordable units must be priced for buyers or renters earning 60% of AMI or below. The bonus is available for use by either rental or owner-occupied product.

Some of the other provisions in the ordinance include:

  • Development size must be a minimum of 3 acres.
  • The exterior of all affordable units within the development must blend in architecturally with the market-rate product (similar roof pitches, foundations, window types, building materials).
  • The affordable units must be dispersed throughout the development, unless their total number exceeds 25 units, in which case they may be contained in a separate building.
  • The total number of affordable units shall to exceed 20% of the total development.
  • Rental units must remain affordable for a minimum of 15 years, and the City or a nonprofit housing agency shall have first right of refusal on the purchase of any affordable owner-occupied unit.

REBIC and our member associations were instrumental in the development of this voluntary, incentive-based program, and fully support its adoption by Council. We believe it provides an opportunity for the city to encourage the construction of affordable housing in specific areas of Charlotte where that supply is quickly disappearing, including South Park, Ballantyne and Steele Creek. For apartment and condominium developers, it offers a way to achieve higher residential densities with no rezoning, while serving a segment of the market that would not otherwise be able to buy in some of the most desirable areas of our community.

We particularly encourage multifamily developers and any other interested members to plan on attending the January 22 public hearing, which will begin at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 600 East Fourth St. in Charlotte.

Another text amendment to encourage mixed-income single-family development will also be up for a vote on the 22nd, following a December public hearing.

If you’d like to learn more about the city’s Incentive-Based Inclusionary Housing Initiative, you can check out the most recent presentation to Council’s Housing & Neighborhood Development Committee, which approved both text amendments late last year.

Charlotte Postpones Implementation of Electronic Plan Review

ComputersDue to technical issues, the City of Charlotte has had to postpone its implementation of Electronic Commercial Plan submittal through Accela Citizen Access (ACA) until Monday, February 4th.

The City will be conducting two training sessions to demonstrate the use of ACA for plan submittal: Wednesday, January 30th at 8:30 am and Thursday, January 31st at 1:30 pm.  Both sessions will be held in the Government Center, Conference Room 280 (2nd floor).  Please go to the Land Development web site to register for this training, http://development.charmeck.org and click on the ACA training icon.

Electronic Document Review (EDR) is a fully integrated feature within Accela Automation that leverages Adobe Acrobat X to provide review and markup of documents in the PDF format. Engineers and developers will have access to review their redlined documents via Accela Citizen Access.

Until February 4th, please continue to submit your plans via e-mail, using Charlotte’s EPlan process.

Numerous Real Estate Provisions Included in Fiscal Cliff Legislation

US Capitol 2On January 1 both the Senate and House passed H.R. 8, legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The bill will be signed shortly by President Barack Obama. Below are a summary of real estate related provisions in the bill:

Real Estate Tax Extenders

  • Mortgage Cancellation Relief is extended for one year to January 1, 2014.
  • Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
  • Leasehold Improvements: 15 year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
  • Energy Efficiency Tax Credit: The 10% tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
  • New Markets Tax Credits and provisions on bonus depreciation were also extended.

Permanent Repeal of Pease Limitations for 99% of Taxpayers

Under the agreement so called “Pease Limitations” that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be re-instituted for high income filers. These limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning above $300,000. These thresholds have been increased and are indexed for inflation and will rise over time. Under the formula, the amount of adjusted gross income above the threshold is multiplied by 3%. That amount is then used to reduce the total value of the filer’s itemized deductions. The total amount of reduction cannot exceed 80% of the filer’s itemized deductions.

These limits were first enacted in 1990 (named for the Ohio Congressman Don Pease who came up with the idea) and continued throughout the Clinton years. They were gradually phased out as a result of the 2001 tax cuts and were completely eliminated in 2010-2012. Had we gone over the fiscal cliff, Pease limitations would have been reinstituted on all filers starting at $174,450 of adjusted gross income.

Capital Gains

Capital Gains rate stays at 15% for those at the top rate of $400,000 individual and $450,000 joint return. After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20%. The $250/$500k exclusion for the sale of a principal residence remains in place.

In addition, the treatment of carried interest as capital gains was left unchanged.

Estate Tax

The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that, the rate will be 40%, up from 35%. The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation.

Source: NAR / NAIOP