Ouch! Obviously stung by Council member Jim Wards comment about “switch-n-baiting”, RAM Development’s VP Casey Cummings delivered a death blow to Council’s request for affordable condo fees for the affordable housing units and a commitment to energy efficiency.



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Both requests seem quite reasonable.

What use is it for the Land Trust to “sell” a condo to an affordable housing applicant just to have them priced out by condo and parking fees?

On the energy front, as former OWASA board member Terri Buckner notes over on OrangePolitics

Not a single citizen speaking at last night’s hearing or at the first public hearing on Lot 5 challenged the Council to ensure energy efficiency. There seemed to be an assumption that “LEED certified” means the development will be energy efficient. However, LEED certified is the lowest level of LEED and even at Platinum status there is no assurance that a LEED building will be energy efficient. To get around that problem, the state of North Carolina has adopted ASHRAE 90.1 for all state constructed buildings.

Chapel Hill is not willing to meet the same requirements as NC State? Dang, we usually lead the State in environmental initiative.

As far as “bait-n-switch”, RAM was challenged last year on their original rosy financial projections. Were they knowingly over promising expecting to under deliver to get the deal?

In the most stark example, Grubb’s financing model would produce a 21.77 percent return on its $10.5 million investment in condominiums on the Wallace Deck site. Ram sees only a 2.98 percent return on its $23 million investment there.

“If they’re willing to do it for that,” Harris said, “God bless ‘em.”

Even if the company wanted to, Grubb couldn’t make a counteroffer, Stainback said, explaining that the proposals are considered “best and final offers.”

Two council members asked Cummings whether Ram’s financial model was too good to be true.

He said no projection ever is exactly right but that his company hopes to ride the growing trend of people returning to downtown.

After the meeting, Ivy Greaner, Ram’s managing partner, said the profit margins are healthy enough to sustain the project.

But Ram also is seeking a foothold in North Carolina. The company is willing to make less money in Chapel Hill to get a centerpiece project in the Triangle.

“This is a special town,” Greaner said, in a suitor’s tone. “We love Chapel Hill.”

N&O

Town investment up 15-fold. Value of the property discounted. Property moving from public to private hands. I understand Jim Wards sentiments.

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