A new contemporary style of affordable housing development could be coming to downtown Raleigh.
Planning Commission members this week approved plans to divide a half-acre property on the northwest corner of South Person and East Lenoir Streets into 10 townhome lots and one open-space lot.
The townhomes are being developed by DHIC, a nonprofit organization that develops affordable housing.
Gregg Warren, president of DHIC, said they wanted to create a new housing design that also fit the historical character of the area.
“We intentionally wanted to do a contemporary, crisp new design that really has not been developed previously in Raleigh,” Warren said, “and we knew that this would probably not be the easiest path to take.”
Developers requested several alternatives to what the code requires:
- A narrower protective yard was requested on the west side of the property to maintain the existing driveway on the neighboring residential property.
- DHIC also asked for narrower sidewalks, to allow developers to provide a six-foot planting strip along East Lenoir and South Person Streets.
- Developers requested an alternate to the required space between buildings.
Some Commissioners questioned the space between buildings and how it will affect privacy. Developers said the windows on the affected side of the buildings will be offset and plantings will be used to maintain privacy.
Commissioner Steven Schuster pointed out that living in close proximity is common in historic districts.
“I think it is very sensitive to the historic district that it is a part of,” Schuster said.
Housing Development for Homeless Vets Approved
Several local homeless veterans could soon have a new place to live.
Commissioners this week also approved plans for the second phase of the Sunnybrook Road development that provides apartments for homeless veterans in Raleigh. The new 10-unit development is located on the east side of Sunnybrook Road between Falstaff and Poole roads in east Raleigh.
Jess Brandes, housing developer at CASA, a nonprofit affordable housing agency, said the new apartments were fully leased up way ahead of time.
The Sunnybrook Road development is fully funded by the City of Raleigh, Wake County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rock Quarry Road Rezoning Deferred
Plans to rezone property on Rock Quarry Road will have to wait two more weeks.
Commissioners deferred a request to rezone an 8-acre property on Rock Quarry Road, just east of Barwell and Pearl roads.
If approved, the proposed rezoning will allow for more intense development and up to 4,000 square feet of retail space.
Commissioner John Buxton supports the higher-density development.
“I am excited about this place as a residential spot because you can walk to school, you can walk to church, you can even walk to retail depending on how much you like to walk,” Buxton said. “I could support higher densities here easily.”
The Rock Quarry Road corridor is designated as a transit emphasis corridor. This designation sparked a great deal of discussion about the need for a transit easement on the property and the case’s designation as a general use case, as opposed to a conditional use case.
A conditional use designation would allow Commissioners to make providing a transit easement a condition of approval. General use does not.
Commissioner Mitch Fluhrer voiced his apprehension.
“I am excited about the brave new world of this general use,” Fluhrer said, “but now that it’s here I am a little bit scared about going forward and not having some way to get a transit easement.”
Commissioner Eric Braun felt the general use designation was the right one.
“I think the city is growing and it’s going to keep growing and I think it’s a good time, in my opinion, to take a stand that there are some cases that should be general use,” Braun said. “This is a case that strikes me that is appropriate for general use.”
Deputy City Attorney Ira Botvinick said a rule change might be needed that would enable Commissioners to require transit easements in certain situations.
“At the end of the day the question is, do we have the right rule? If we don’t have the right rule then you should recommend changing the rule,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to hold this applicant or any applicant hostage if we don’t have the right rule,” he said. “Let’s change the rule.”