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Housing Developments, Cities Honored with 2014 Housing North Carolina Awards

Release No. 101714-26

Press Contact Only:
Connie Helmlinger, NCHFA, 919-877-5607 
Brian Rapp, NCHFA, 919-877-5655

Four housing developments and the cities of Asheboro and Jacksonville received Housing North Carolina Awards on Oct. 15 for excellence in affordable housing.

Sponsored by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, the 25-year-old statewide awards recognize outstanding rental, homeownership and supportive housing developments that can serve as models for other communities.

In Asheville and Jacksonville, partnerships between city government, the Habitat for Humanity affiliate and private builders created attractive, affordable neighborhoods that have improved both communities. The city of Asheboro was recognized for its support for affordable housing, particularly its investments in two rental developments for families near downtown. A rental development in Cornelius captured an award for providing high-quality apartments for working families that are convenient to businesses and downtown. Winners in Wilmington and Charlotte created safe, state-of-the-art living environments for individuals making the transition back into society after incarceration, and for victims of domestic violence.

The winners were selected for affordability; design (attractiveness, energy-efficiency); contribution to the community; sustainability as affordable housing; and features such as services for residents and creative partnerships.

Approximately 1,000 people attended the 25th annual Housing North Carolina Awards luncheon during the NC Affordable Housing Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The winners were:

  • Carney Place, Asheville, a 22-home neighborhood created through a partnership between the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and the city of Asheville that produced a community of energy-efficient, single-family homes in the trendy West End area, that is otherwise beyond the price range of moderate-income residents.
  • Downtown Housing Initiative, Jacksonville, where the city worked with private builders and the local Habitat to turn the dilapidated Cox Avenue/Court Street area into a new, vibrant neighborhood that also offers parks and an amphitheater.
  • The city of Asheboro, for providing loans and municipal support to the Asheboro Mill Lofts and Sunset Place, two developments that transformed abandoned manufacturing mills and condemned houses into apartment communities that provide residents easy access to downtown amenities.
  • Antiquity Heights, Cornelius, a 96-apartment community developed by Solstice Partners of Cary that is part of a smart-growth community named Antiquity, offering moderate-income residents affordable housing close to jobs and downtown.
  • Marvin E. Roberts Transitional Living Facility, Wilmington, a state-of-the-art facility created from a former jail that offers housing and re-entry assistance for men and women released from prison. Developed by Leading Into New Communities, Inc., with support from the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County, the facility provides work training and education opportunities that have helped keep the recidivism rate of residents to less than 12 percent.
  • Clyde and Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter, Charlotte, a new 80-bed facility that replaced a much smaller shelter and allows clients longer stays than the previous 30-day limit. Since its opening, more than 100 women and children have found safety at the shelter, which was developed by Safe Alliance with support from the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

The NC Housing Finance Agency is a self-supporting public agency that has financed more than 221,000 affordable homes and apartments. The Agency partnered with the Community Investment Corporation of the Carolinas and the NC Housing Coalition to sponsor the NC Affordable Housing Conference, Oct. 15-16, in Raleigh.

Editor: A description of each winner and the contact person follows:

Carney Place, Asheville
Great location, appealing design, energy-efficient construction – all at an affordable price.

This is Carney Place, a new affordable neighborhood in Asheville’s trendy West End that meets homeowners’ needs and also enhances the surrounding community.

This 22-home neighborhood was created through a partnership between the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and the city of Asheville that produced high-quality results and low costs. With the city financing the land costs, Asheville Habitat for Humanity created a subdivision affordable to buyers who would have otherwise been priced out of that trendy and convenient part of town.

Making the homes even more affordable, construction to SystemVision™ standards will keep heating and cooling costs to an average of $25 to $35 per month. The two-, three- and four-bedroom homes range from 900 to 1,400 square feet, incorporate universal design features such as accessible bathrooms and at-grade or ramped entrances, and are certified by Greenbuilt NC through the use of high-efficiency vinyl windows and high-efficiency heat pumps, water heaters and appliances.

Sale prices range from $140,000 to $170,000. Forgivable second and third mortgages provided by Habitat and the city of Asheville, plus zero-percent participation loans from the NC Housing Finance Agency, make the homes affordable to buyers with incomes averaging $31,000. In addition to helping build their own homes, applicants complete 50 hours of homeowner education to ensure they are able to maintain their investment. Carney Place families have easy access to West Asheville amenities, including a weekly farmers market. 

Contact: Lew Krause, executive director, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, 828-251-5702.

The city of Jacksonville was recognized for its Downtown Housing Initiative, a neighborhood that it transformed from the “wrong side of the tracks” to a community primed for growth and sought after by private builders.

The city acquired decaying homes and vacant lots in the area of Cox Avenue and Court Street and attracted local builders to construct 12 three-and four-bedroom homes incorporating new downtown housing design standards. All feature metal roofs, brick or fiber cement siding, permanent, non-rotting posts and railings and ribbon driveways, and were built to SystemVision™ construction standards that lower heating and cooling costs.

In addition, the city of Jacksonville has invested in nearby parks, walkways, and other amenities that continue to attract private builders to the area.

The community also includes a riverpark walk, two recreation centers, tennis courts and a mini amphitheater where Jacksonville hosts its annual National Night Out to encourage involvement in crime prevention activities.

The homes range in size from 1,200 to 1,700 square feet, with sales prices between $122,000 and $149,000. Home buyers are provided a deferred, zero-interest third mortgage equaling the value of the land, which is forgiven after 10 years in the home, to encourage investment.

Buyers are also provided subordinate financing through the NC Housing Finance Agency, and are offered the Agency’s Home Advantage Mortgage™, which includes down payment assistance. Potential buyers participate in an eight-hour home buyer course and one-on-one counseling to ensure their ability to maintain long-term ownership.

Contact: Tracy Jackson, community development specialist, City of Jacksonville, 910-938-5269.

City of Asheboro
The city of Asheboro was recognized for its exceptional support and investment in affordable housing, particularly the creation of Asheboro Mill Lofts and Sunset Place, two rental developments that together provide apartments for 152 families and help meet the city’s goal for an attractive, economically viable and pedestrian-scaled downtown.

The two developments revitalized or replaced existing properties that were decaying. Asheboro Mills Lofts, a 70-apartment community developed by The Landmark Group of Winston-Salem, transformed two abandoned downtown manufacturing mills into residential structures while preserving the buildings’ original hardwood floors, high ceilings, large windows, and wooden doors.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom units, renting from $300 to $620, range in size from 700 to 1,200 square feet. No two are alike in design since the developer had to work around the mills’ original structural beams to maintain the buildings’ integrity. Contemporary additions can be found in a community room with concrete counter tops, concrete floors accented with embedded blue glass. Other amenities include a computer room, exercise room, playground and a covered recreation area with picnic tables and grills.

Sunset Place, developed by Wynnefield Properties of Jamestown, is a 52-unit complex of two- and three-bedroom apartments that replaced 10 vacant or condemned houses and duplexes. Asheboro officials have cited the property as a key part of redeveloping Sunset Avenue as a downtown gateway.

The modern apartments range from 1,000 to 1,200 square feet and rent for $350 to $595. They feature two full baths, walk-in closets, maple cabinets and plantation blinds. Six units designed for persons with disabilities include low kitchen and bathroom counters, roll-in showers with grab bars, and fire alarms connected to strobe lights. A club house, fitness center, playground and picnic area are among Sunset Place’s amenities.

The location of Asheboro Mill Lofts and Sunset Place allows residents to enjoy Bicentennial Park, the farmer’s market and other attractions of downtown Asheboro. Mayor David Smith noted that the two developments have supported jobs, provided high-quality places to live and increased the city’s tax base.

In addition to loans provided by the city, both developments also received federal and state housing credits awarded by the NC Housing Finance Agency. 

Contact: John Ogburn, Asheboro city manager, 336-626-1201. For more information about Asheboro Mill Lofts, contact Tracey Levine, The Landmark Group, 336-714-8941; for information about Sunset Place, contact Craig Stone, Wynnefield Properties, 336-454-6134.

Antiquity Heights, Cornelius
Developed by Solstice Partners of Cary, Antiquity Heights offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in townhome-style buildings. The development is part of the larger Antiquity community, a mixed-income, pedestrian-friendly development of single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums. The community features walking trails and a covered bridge and is an extension of downtown Cornelius designed to bring local workers closer to their jobs.

The 96 apartments of Antiquity Heights range from 690 to 1,200 square feet, with rents from $300 to $700. Ten apartments are fully accessible for residents with disabilities, and five include roll-in showers. Amenities include a computer room, fitness equipment and a community room, as well as a playground and covered picnic area with grills.

The Antiquity community is located within a mile of the parks, shops, schools and businesses of downtown Cornelius, with plans for a town center, anchored by a Harris Teeter store and movie theater, to be located directly across the street from the apartments.

Antiquity Heights was financed with federal and state housing credits awarded by the NC Housing Finance Agency. 

Contact: Cathy Connors, managing member, Solstice Partners, 919-610-7883.

Marvin E. Roberts Transitional Living Facility, Wilmington
A one-time minimum-security jail has become a portal back into society, thanks to a local non-profit’s partnership with the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County.

Leading Into New Communities, Inc. (LINC) offers housing and transitional services to individuals released from incarceration. Frankie Roberts, LINC’s founder and executive director, developed the Marvin E. Roberts Transitional Living Facility to honor his deceased brother, a Vietnam veteran who experienced several periods of incarceration.

The facility provides a state-of-the-art, therapeutic living environment that can accommodate 40 residents (20 men and 20 women) for as long as 18 months. Six additional beds provide a safe place for individuals who are intoxicated.

The facility includes a kitchen, laundry room, exercise room and a computer lab, and is under 24-hour supervision. Access to substance abuse and mental health services, and case management services providing development of skills needed to succeed in society, is also available.

Residents participate in a minimum of 120 days of work experience and job training through LINC’s Social Enterprises, including caring for city lawns, collecting and composting yard waste, and tending LINC’s urban farm, where residents grow organic peppers and specialty herbs to sell to Wilmington restaurants. LINC also operates a thrift store and even a beekeeping business that sells honey to area restaurants. Altogether, the program’s various industries generated almost half a million dollars in income in 2013. Residents also receive educational support, with a number actively pursuing college degrees.

Since opening in 2012, the Marvin E. Roberts Transitional Living Facility has served 129 residents, with 74 moving on to permanent housing in the community. More than 88 percent have successfully avoided further incarceration.

Contact: Frankie Roberts, executive director, Leading Into New Communities, Inc., 910-763-3937.

Clyde and Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter, Charlotte
A new, expanded facility in Charlotte offers area survivors of domestic violence and their children a much-needed sanctuary from abusive environments.

The Clyde and Ethel Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter, developed by Safe Alliance with support from the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, replaces an older, smaller shelter with a modern, 80-bed facility. The new shelter includes emergency beds, family bedrooms and transitional apartments. It also allows longer stays than the previous 30-day limit.

A library, kitchen, dining area, laundry facilities, computer room and child care area are shared by residents. Each client is assigned an advocate who develops a safety plan and directs them to resources such as government benefits, housing options and employment opportunities. Counselors work individually and in group settings with residents to address trauma and help them avoid future abusive relationships.

Children receive help with psychological issues stemming from witnessing abuse, and can participate in an onsite summer camp provided through a partnership with the local YMCA and the Steve Smith Foundation.

Residents are also offered health and nutrition classes, support groups, legal help and career planning assistance, all aimed at helping families get back on their feet and achieve permanent, stable housing.
Since opening, the shelter has provided a safe haven to more than 100 women and children nightly. Seventy-five percent of women contacted after leaving the shelter are still living in a safe home, and almost all children surveyed showed improved social behavior.

Contact: Kathy Gauger, director of residential services, Safe Alliance, 704-688-9840.