updated 4:55 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, 2007
The Town of Davidson has agreed to help a non-profit housing group buy the Oakhill Apartments off Beaty Street, in hopes of preserving the complex’s 72 units as affordable housing.
The Town Board Tuesday night approved an agreement that would allow the town to loan $250,000 to Virginia-based Community Housing Partners Corp., which wants to buy the property.
The Oakhill complex sits on about eight acres on the town’s West Side, near the Ingersoll-Rand plant. According to Mecklenburg County land records, the current owner is a Charleston, S.C., investment group.
Town Manager Leamon Brice described the town’s proposed involvement in the deal at Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting.
“We were approached by Community Housing Partners Corporation and notified that Oakhill Apartments were on the market for sale,” Mr. Brice said. “Community Housing Partners is in the business of doing affordable housing projects and they wanted to buy Oakhill and … retain it as an affordable housing project.”
James Pritchett, vice president of housing development at Community Housing Partners, said the town and his organization share the same goals in collaborating on the purchase.
“This demonstrates the Town of Davidson’s commitment to preserving affordable housing in this area, which complements our own mission of providing affordable, sustainable housing opportunities for the people and communities we serve,” Mr. Pritchett said in a written response to questions Wednesday afternoon.
The current owners paid about $1 million for the property in 1985, according to county land records. The asking price for the property was beyond what Community Housing Partners could pay in order to keep the apartments affordable.
“They were not able to make an offer comparable to (other bidders) to make the project work,” Mr. Brice said. So they turned to the town for help.
The town has been working on a variety of fronts in recent years to preserve and encourage development of affordable housing, and it jumped at the “unusual and kind of fortunate opportunity,” Mr. Brice said.
Community Housing Partners ultimately was able to win the bidding, and is in the midst of negotiating a purchase agreement, spokeswoman Heather Toro Derrick said Wednesday. Ms. Derrick said the organization would not disclose the purchase price until the deal is final.
It hopes to complete the purchase in June, said and plans to seeking tax-credit financing for the proposed purchase in January.
Tax-credit financing would require the new owners to keep the units affordable. If it obtains that funding, the town would agree to make the loan interest-free, Mr. Brice said.
On Tuesday, the Town Board voted 5-0 in favor of a Memorandum of Understanding with Community Housing Partners, which includes the possibility of the loan. Whether the town ends up making the loan depends on Community Housing Partners’ successfully negotiating a purchase deal and other financing.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING BUSINESS
Community Housing Partners is a 32-year-old non-profit organization based in Christiansburg, Va. Originally an all-volunteer organization started around Virginia Tech, it now has 72 properties encompassing 4,544 units in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Kentucky.
It expanded its investments to North Carolina last year, with the December purchase of the 150-unit Townhomes of Ashbrook apartment complex off Eastway Drive in Charlotte.
Ms. Derrick said the Oakhill Apartments would be the organization’s second property in North Carolina.
She said the company has its own architects, contractors, home ownership training programs and other services. It typically renovates apartments that it buys, while trying to keep rents at about 60 percent to 50 percent below the media income of the market, as set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We like to own and manage properties ourselves, to bring a broad array of services to our residents,” Ms. Derrick said.
She said the Oakhill Apartments will need revovations. “One of CHP’s goals in applying for North Carolina tax credits for the January 2008 cycle will be to provide improvements and upgrade the overall appearance of the property so that it complements and reflects the Town of Davidson’s historic architecture,” she said.
If all goes according to schedule, any improvements would begin no earlier than late 2008, she said.
Community Housing Partners is seeking financing for the deal through Newton-based Peoples Bank. That prompted town board member John Woods to preface the board’s vote with the disclosure that he works for Peoples.
But he said he does not stand to benefit financially from the deal.