Development Beat: Affordable Housing Application

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Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rea Venture Group, an Atlanta-based affordable housing developer, has filed a rezoning case, Z-3-16, for a piece of land in far Northeast Raleigh at 2925 Forestville Road.

The possible site of a new affordable housing development

The possible site of a new affordable housing development

According to a letter Rea Ventures Group sent to surrounding neighbors, the rezoning would allow for the development of a 100-unit affordable housing community named Abbington Village, which would be made up of three-story apartments and townhomes.

Rea Ventures has developed a number of multifamily properties throughout the Southeast, including Abbington Gardens of Winston Salem. Abbington Gardens is also an affordable housing development, and was funded both by the city of Winston-Salem and the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

Like Abbington Gardens, Abbington Village¬†will also be managed by the Charlotte-based GEM Property Management. In a meeting held with existing neighbors on January 5, concerns were expressed that GEM did not have a “good track record.”

RVG representatives responded that they were unsure where this perception came from, and that they had no indications that GEM was unsuitable in any way. RVG feels that “their experience in North Carolina and in other states is sufficient for hiring GEM to manage our NC developments.”

Anyone who’s ever looked online for reviews of apartment management companies knows they can expect a lot of low ratings and angry rantings. So it was somewhat surprising to find that the only two reviews for GEM on Yelp were both for five-stars.

Yellow Pages was more of a mixed-bag; a five-star, a two-star and two one-stars. One of those one-stars was a little … unsettling, and should perhaps not be taken as an indictment of GEM. An excerpt: “I called the main office to set up an appointment to talk about the PAID RENT/Mental Cruelty, A.D.A., ETC!? Kim was mentally cruel on the phone with me”

I’ll say this: I definitely prefer the apartment management companies that are physically, rather than mentally, cruel. I’d much rather have my arms broken for forgetting to pay my rent than having my feelings hurt.

At that January 5 meeting, neighbors also expressed concern that this would be Section 8 housing, but RVG management explained that the Low Income Housing Tax Credits they would be applying for were different from a project receiving PBRA funding for Section 8.

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

Plans for Abbington Gardens in Winston-Salem

On a similar note, existing residents were concerned that the property would not be well maintained. RVG assured them that that all the units would be professionally managed and maintained, and that audits of the property and routine maintenance checks on the units would ensure they remain in good shape.

Additionally, there will be property staff on site to deal with any issues that may arise, and a professional landscaping company will be hired to maintain the grounds.

The redevelopment and rezoning are both contingent on the sale of the two properties that make up the site, 2925 and 2929 Forestville Road to RVG. The properties have been owned since 1993 and 1996, respectively, by the Blinson family.

This site is current zoned R-4 (single family residential) and is proposed to be rezoned to RX-3-CU (residential mixed-use with conditions).

In their rezoning application, RVG wrote that the new development will “provide attractive, comfortable and safe affordable housing for tenants near opportunities for work, health care, grocery stores, retail, and education.”

In addition, it will “create an estimated 150-170 jobs during construction and an estimated $4 million or more in taxable construction costs.”

Sounds like a pretty good deal. It also says the apartments will provide an affordable place to live for the next 30 years, giving a good idea of the development’s life span.

Magnolia Plantation, one of Rea Venture Group's developments

Magnolia Plantation, one of Rea Venture Group’s developments

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