I’ve followed the ins-and-outs of Raleigh’s Carlton Place before the Wallace Deck/Lot #5 developments took flight.

64 of the 80 units – ranging in size from 800 to 1200 sq./ft. – are priced so those making %60 of Wake County’s median income can afford one.

Market rates aren’t too shabby either (market/affordable): 1 BR/1 BA $700/$550 or less, 1 BR/1 BA (with Den) $750/$570, 2 BR/2 BA $875/$600, 3 BR/2 BA $1,100/$670.

Located at the intersection of E. Davie Street and S. Bloodworth Street, less than two blocks from Moore Square, City Market, and the Exploris and Moore Square Museums Magnet middle schools. Its central location provides residents with easy access to all of downtown’s employment, shopping, professional services, public transit, and cultural and recreational opportunities.

Amenities found at Carlton Place include on-site management and maintenance; a variety of one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans ranging from about 800 to 1200 square feet; a fitness room, business center and laundry room; walk-in closets; washer and dryer hook-ups; cable television and Internet connections; a picnic area and tot lot; and private, off-street parking.

In addition to the on-site amenities, the project was built to include green design elements that help make it an environmentally friendly and cost-effective place to live. Among the green features of the project are: Energy Star appliances; high efficiency heat pumps; low-VOC carpet and paint; carpet padding made from recycled materials; pervious concrete; and native, drought-resistant plants for landscaping.

Off street parking? Are they nuts?

By contrast, the Lot 5 development offers compact affordable units: “21 one-bedroom units be provided in the project, with a square footage averaging 643 square feet.” Qualification starts at %80 of the regional salary (little less than $50K), with the purchase price set accordingly (to what someone earning $50K/year could “afford”). Condo fees capped at %1.5 of that sales price of the affordable units plus utilities.

Of course, folks will “own” their apartment on Lot #5 while those at Carlton Place will only rent. Chapel Hill’s condo owners, then, will experience a modest growth in equity and see a return on their investment (minus the %1.5 yearly fees) while those in Raleigh don’t.

Ownership is supposed to also reduce unit churn – a favored attribute over apartments – an attribute that appears to be unique to Lot #5 as our local affordable housing advocate Robert Dowling noted when commenting on “Mr. Meadowmont” Roger Perry’s new East 54 (University Inn) project:

Meadowmont developer Roger Perry is planning a major project that challenges the town’s inclusionary affordable housing model.

In exchange for the town’s approving high density — half a million square feet on 11 acres — Perry is offering to double the town’s requirement: 30 percent affordable housing, or 60 out of 200 condos.

Robert Dowling, executive director of the nonprofit Orange Community Housing and Land Trust, praised the idea. But he urged the Town Council to reject it. Dowling said the flood of condos would be harder to manage because condos are smaller starter homes that few people would live in for very long.

Lower-cost condos criticized The News & Observer February 17, 2007

Perry’s East 54 units “one- and two-bedroom units would range in size from 700 to 1,000 square feet and would be priced somewhere in the low $100,000s”.

Bigger, cheaper but will churn faster than those condos on Lot #5? Doesn’t compute.

Back to Raleigh, the taxpayers’ outlay was at least 5-fold less than our taxpayers, $1.5M to our $7.5M.

A $1.5 million loan from the city and county helped the non-profit housing company, DHIC, develop a $10 million project. Apartments are available to families earning 60 percent of the median income. In Raleigh, that’s $43,000 for a family of four.

WRAL, Feb. 26th, 2007

Larger, cheaper units with on-site parking, no condo fees, many amenities without creating a slew of publicly financed million dollar condos? That computes.

What about that housing cost disparity?

“It’s so important for downtown to give opportunities for multiple classes to help build a life in downtown,” said Kris Larson, deputy director of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

It allows people who work in the service industry downtown to live downtown.

“If only people who can live here have to buy a $350,000 condo, what kind of community is that, it’s not very diverse or vibrant,” said Natalie Connell, of DHIC.

WRAL, Feb. 26th, 2007

Vibrancy. That also computes.

What kind of mix of residents will live in our publicly underwritten Lot #5? Well-to-do students, young professionals, retirees that can drop between $300,000 and $1 million plus on housing?

Raleigh designed in diversity and environmental sanity from the start with their Carlton Place project, as the ‘blog Raleighing reports (Carlton Place Opens With Fanfare):

Eight of the units are set aside for, and affordable to, persons with disabilities. Additionally, 4 units are fully accessible to people with mobility impairments, including curbless showers. One resident benefiting from this is Raleigh native and reigning Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina, Ms. Kelly Woodall.

Carlton Place also received a grant from the Home Depot Foundation to incorporate “Green” elements in the design of the development. Carlton Place features Energy Star appliances, low VOC paint and carpet, pervious concrete, low flow plumbing, and solar reflective roof membranes.

According to Gregg Warren, Executive Director of DHIC, the first residents are employees of The City of Raleigh, Wake County Public Schools, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Capital Area Transit, retail businesses, state government, and Wake Med. Many are now able to walk to work. DHIC is also the developer of Murphy School Apartments and the Prairie Building in downtown Raleigh.

End of the day? If increasing Downtown’s population, diversity and vibrancy in a sustainable, environmentally sound fashion is your goal, Raleigh’s Carlton Place suggests some solutions.

Cross-posted from Terri Buckner’s (TerriB’s) ‘blog LocalEcology

Orange County Homelessness Fact Sheet
February 2007

Total Number of Homeless People Counted in January 2007: 224

  • Homeless people staying in temporary shelter: 199
  • Homeless people without shelter (i.e. on the streets): 25
  • Homeless families: 23
  • Homeless people in families (including children): 60
  • Homeless children: 35
  • Homeless individuals (not in families): 164
  • Homeless people with a history of domestic violence: 23
  • Chronically homeless people: 71

These figures do not include numbers of people who are “doubled up,” that is without a legal residence of their own and temporarily staying with another person. Furthermore, the data does not account for people who are at-risk of homelessness for any reason including unemployment, foreclosure, eviction, chronic or sudden illness and domestic violence. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 40.5% of renters in Orange County pay 35% or more of household income toward rent which qualifies as at-risk of homelessness.

In Orange County:

  • A minimum wage earner (earning $5.15 per hour) must work 117 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, to afford the fair market rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom unit, which is $785 per month. An SSI recipient (receiving $603 monthly) can afford monthly rent of no more than $181, while the fair market rent for a one-bedroom is $603 (Out of Reach Report, 2006).
  • In order to afford FMR for a two-bedroom unit ($785), without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $2,617 monthly or $31,400 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $15.10 (Out of Reach Report, 2006).
  • In 2006, the Inter-Faith Council served 85,055 hot meals; provided 7,726 bags of groceries to 7,187 members of the community; granted 3,500 requests for food, cash, and help with utilities and other service needs representing more than 2,100 households; and offered 813 homeless individuals a place to sleep through its Community House and HomeStart program.
  • Neighbor House, Inc. distributed at least 17, 680 dinners to members of Northern Orange County through its Food for All Program in 2006. They are currently serving an average of 85 meals per night, four nights per week.
  • In 2005, the Community Initiative to End Homelessness received approximately $275,000 to provide permanent housing to homeless and disabled individuals or families. The funding is shared among OPC Area Program, the Chrysalis Foundation for Mental Health, Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and UNC Horizon’s. The CIEH applied for additional homeless assistance funding in 2006, but award letters have not been received as of 2/13/07.

I’m trying to find how the $275,000 in Community Initiative to End Homelessness funds were actually dispersed.

Council member Sally Greene has also been doing work (and blogging about it) with the ORANGE COUNTY PARTNERSHIP TO END HOMELESSNESS

Thanks Teri for shining a light into the shadows, please keep the posts coming.

[UPDATE:] The video below streams from my site – here’s the Google Video that streams faster.

Here’s the complete “debate” Council held on the Lot #5. Note how quickly the expedited SUP application was approved.


How could the negotiations team done a better job informing the public throughout the process?

Here’s two examples from Greensboro’s District 5 Council member Sandy Carmany covering their coliseum issues, this one from a year ago and this one from November.

Sure, she wasn’t hampered by reporting on material potentially shielded under NC’s open meetings laws, but, then again, not every decision or thought process going into RAM’s “new” deal was by necessity shielded.

The only Council member directly involved in the negotiations, Sally Greene, has done the best informing the public of her thinking process on Lot 5 though nothing I read prepared me for such a right turn.

Original post:

Council had an excellent opportunity over the last week to answer the critics of the new Downtown Development Initiative Lot #5 deal.

Over the Summer, the public’s investment in the deal ballooned 15-fold, from $500K to north of $7.2M (with additional revenue hits, etc.). The Wallace Deck portion excised. Public space diminished. Boutique shops up, affordable commercial space missing. $385-$415 per square foot property, slated, as one critic pointed out, probably for affluent student housing.

What, over the Summer, caused the deal to change so radically for what I, other downtown business folks, two Kenan-Flager business school professors and many other concerned citizens consider the worse?

Council could’ve released more information – to provide a solid foundation for the public’s understanding of “the deal”. I’ve followed this deal quite closely. I agreed to “bite my tongue”. to not criticize the problematic elements of the original deal, to wait on the “new deal” which would correct the more egregious of the public’s concerns.

I’ve spent hours trying to pull together all the whispers, hints, etc. that incidentally wafted the public’s direction over the course of the Summer. But what I have is not enough.

The Council has the responsibility and obligation to fully disclose the details, to the fullest extent
allowed by law, of this deal.

Mr. Manager, Mayor and Town Council,

Thank you for being more timely this week and publishing the RAM development agenda item before close of business. Unfortunately, the agenda item is fairly light on the background of the “new deal”.

Would you please publish the remaining reports, discussions notes, comments, etc. that went into forming the “new deal” over the Summer?

I know that there’s some legal issues involved in releasing all of the notes – legal issues that will become moot after you sign the deal – so I’m not asking for ALL the information now (though I will be exercising a citizen’s FOIA prerogative ASAP).

I’m asking that you release everything you can prior to the meeting, including information not protected under the confidentially agreement but also not,to date, publicly disseminated.

For instance, would you please provide details of your consultations with the Local Government Commission (LGC) on financing?

This would include notes, reports, detailed analysis, etc. Please be thorough in your disclosures.

I’m interested in the LGC’s take on leveraging the secured debt, effect on our town’s debt ratings, thoughts on the quoted interest rate, etc. Essentially, I imagine, the same kind of financial analysis that a private business uses in evaluating the risk-rewards of taking on debt.

Finally, the main conduit for publishing this data has been the DDI website which hasn’t been updated since Spring. I’ve asked the Council to update the information on the RAM deal in a timely fashion. Several folks told me to “hold my horses”, that I needed to wait until the “final” deal was set.

Well, the final deal is set and the public still doesn’t have those details. I was hoping that this issue would be addressed over the last 9 days but it hasn’t.

The public has one weekend to review these critical additional details.

Please, if you can’t update the website, then submit them to the citizenry directly. If emailing or providing paper copies is easier, that’s fine.

I’ll make sure they get into the public domain over the weekend.

Thank you for your prompt attention,

Will Raymond

Posted these individual citizen comments from the Nov. 20th Public Hearing on the Downtown Development

Chris Culbreth, a second term member of the Town’s Community Design Commission (CDC), stayed late Monday, Nov. 20th, to comment to Council on the proposed revisions for the Process for Revision of the Comprehensive Plan

Interestingly enough, he spent more of his limited time counseling Council on the Downtown Development Initiative (DDI) juggernaut than the process revisions – including this digression on how developers are already factoring in Council’s temperament:

[Lot #5] is going to be a key building because the people who see that are going to come and build things following – and some of those people were here tonight – all the guys who bring us their plans of what their going to develop were sitting in the audience tonight to see what Lot 5 went over – so they can figure out “what we can get approved next”…

He then held up another RAM Development proposal, 425 Hillsborough St., of which I’ve been somewhat critical of for a few reasons, as an example of a kind of urban density at odds with our Town’s stated goals of walkability, livability and sustainability before turning back to the Lot #5 precedent:

…this building, Lot 5, and how it’s going to be built, and how it looks, will be a precedent for these others that will be developed. And I don’t want it to turn out to be like Rosemary Village, for example, it was built and it’s all students and sold in less than a year. No professional is going to want to live there. And the way it was built – it doesn;t even communicate to the neighborhood [Northside] behind it..that’s a transitional neighborhood…we want those neighborhoods to come into Town…

The other developments that come into place, they’re going to use that [Lot #5 density and design] as an example and our concern is the massing of these buildings and how it’s going to function…


As Chris pointed out, the CDC reviews development projects and provides feedback to developers prior to Council. Chris has long familiarity with many of the projects coming before this Council – projects the Council has generally been satisfied with, at least as far as general design goals.

Council should weigh this members counsel in light of that experience.

The Community Design Commission is charged with the following:

To initiate, promote and assist in the implementation of programs of general community beautification in Chapel Hill and its environs;

To seek to coordinate the activities of individuals, agencies, organizations and groups, public and private, whose plans, activities and programs bear upon the appearance of Chapel Hill and its environs;

To provide leadership and guidance in matters of design and appearance to individuals, organizations and groups, public and private;

To make studies of the visual assets and liabilities of the community, including surveys and inventories of an appropriate nature, and to suggest standards and policies of design for the entire community, or any individual project to be undertaken therein;

To prepare both general and specific plans for the improved appearance of the Town of Chapel Hill and its environs…

UNC trustee and local developer Roger Perry said his sense was that UW-Madison officials essentially tell the community that the university’s mission requires it to do a certain project, and then everyone goes to work on preventing negative impacts, without trying to stop the project in general.

He said he’d like to get to that point in Chapel Hill, and that it can be somewhat “insulting” when someone not connected to UNC says they really aren’t convinced the university needs to do what it says it needs to do.

HeraldSun 09/27/06

Perry is insulted when someone outside of UNC questions the whys-and-wherefores of campus development?

What the hell? Near quoting from the authoritarianism playbook, Perry says he likes a community that doesn’t question the diktat of the university – a community that just “deals” with the university’s negative impacts.

Perry appears to long for the day when citizens “shut up” and STOP SAYING they aren’t really convinced about what the university needs to do. My guess? It isn’t the citizen taxpayer questioning the “needs” as much as the citizen taxpayer that questions the “hows” that really inflames his ire.

The obvious sub-text is Carolina North.

The fine residents of our community, the hard-working taxpaying citizens of our State, deserve more than the University’s current flimsy assertions of positive financial, economic and social impacts. From a straight business perspective, for the investment demanded of our community and State, the return is hardly clear.

While I believe the University needs to expand, I have been quite clear that the justifications UNC, to-date, have offered up for Carolina North are, at best, fundamentally weak, at worse, downright disingenuous.

Roger Perry and the rest of UNC’s Board of Trustees absolutely must address the glaring absence of any reasonable, documented, calculable return on investment before I, a single North Carolina citizen taxpayer, will be convinced of the soundness of their plans.

Of course, this is the board Carolina North’s designated quarterback Jack Evans claims can’t handle reading a 15 page list of development principles for Carolina North.

What a trip for the Carolina North boys. Perry’s “shut up” is a fine bookend to Moeser’s reaction to “freelance dissent”.

Alpha quality?

This is my first release of a “fly-by” created with Google’s mapping tool Google Earth [v4.0291.beta], drawing tool SketchUp and published concept plans to model new development in our community. In this case, modeling RAM Development’s 322 luxury condos visual impact.

The large McMansion-like teardown, unfortunately, is displacing Hillsborough Street’s affordable 111 unit Town House apartments. Town House has been a low cost haven for students for years.

Hillsborough425 aka “The Residences at the Grove” (again, what grove?) will be the largest development of its kind to bless (?) Chapel Hill. Given that and RAM Developments close relationship with Council in the ongoing $100M deconstruction of downtown, the Mayor’s brush-off of greater transparency is troubling.

How did I do it?




Using Google Earth:

  • 1) “Flew” to the general location of Hillsborough425.
  • 2) Added Hillsborough425: Current Town House Apt. layout [JPG] as an overlay, changed its opacity to %50, then stretched and rotated it until the roads and features matched up.
  • 3) Set the overlay to be drawing priority #1.
  • 4) Added Hillsborough425: Sept. 2006 Concept Plan [GIF] also as an overlay and adjusted it in a similar manner using both the underlying GoogleEarth features and the current layout overlay.
  • 5) Toggled off the Town House Apt. overlay leaving just the concept plan.
  • 6) Saved the result safely to disk.

Using Google Sketchup:

  • 1) Imported the current view from GoogleEarth (the Hillsborough425 concept plan overlaid on the current topography)
  • 2) Toggled Google->Terrain OFF
  • 3) Outlined the buildings using the flattened concept plan imported from Google Earth and tracing with the LINE tool.
  • 4) Using the Hillsborough425: Concept plan descriptions and other documents as references for each buildings height, used the PUSH/PULL tool to extrude a volume roughly the same height.
  • 5) Toggled Google->Terrain ON
  • 6) Using the SELECTION tool to select an element in one building, right clicked and selected all connected components. Once selected, used the MOVE tool to place the building roughly at grade.
  • 7) Exported the finished product to GoogleEarth.

Once exported to GoogleEarth, I finished by exporting my alpha-quality project as a KML suitable for GoogleEarth v4.0291.beta.

If I get some time this weekend (ha!), I’ll add in the existing two and four story apartments for scale.

Here’s the Sketchup files ( [1] and [2]) of the Hillsborough425 buildings, please feel free to build upon my initial effort.

My only request is you publish the results for the wider community.

That’s the Daily Tar Heel’s Editorial Board.

The concept plan to tear down the 111-unit Town House Apartment complex and build 322 new nonrental luxury units called the Residences at Grove Park should be scrapped before any more money is wasted investigating the issue.

They share some common concerns: traffic and affordable housing.

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