Developer and city cite differing rents for subsidized affordable units

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Alexander Co. Development & Project Manager Dave Vos, with Mayor Nancy Vaughan to the left, hands off a shovel during the groundbreaking for Printworks Mill. (photo by Jordan Green)

The city of Greensboro and a Wisconsin-based developer don’t agree on the rental amounts for affordable units in the Printworks Mill apartments, which are expected to come online in 2020.

As of Monday at noon, a news item on the city’s website was still citing the same figures issued in a press release issued by the Alexander Co.: $681 for an affordable one-bedroom apartment, and $817 per month for an affordable two-bedroom apartment.

The published rental rates prompted a flurry of constituent criticism on Facebook last week, heightened by debate over the city’s $1.2 million commitment to the project from voter-approved housing bond funds, and concerns about gentrification and the supply of affordable housing. The threads drew a response on Facebook from Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who said that city staff confirmed that the affordable one-bedroom apartments would rent for $575 and the affordable two-bedroom apartments would rent for $690.

Greensboro Neighborhood Development Director Stan Wilson backed Vaughan in an interview with Triad City Beat, citing a “projected rent schedule” attached to the loan agreement for the project, which is signed by Joseph M. Alexander, president of the Alexander Co. Wilson told City Beat that any departure from the projected rent schedule specifying $575 for one bedroom and $690 for two bedrooms would require approval from the city and the NC Housing Finance Agency.

Reached by phone on Monday morning, Alexander Co. Development and Project Manager Dave Vos provided Triad City Beat with a new set of affordable rental numbers that still don’t conform to the figures cited by city staff. Vos said the affordable one-bedroom apartments would rent for $615 per month and the affordable two-bedroom apartments would rent for $735 per month. He said those figures come from backing utilities out of the rates previously cited by the developer.

Vos said he wasn’t concerned that his company and the city aren’t in agreement about the rates.

“It doesn’t really matter what the projections are,” he said. “It’s immaterial.”

The city’s loan agreement with the Alexander Co. stipulates that at least 60 percent of the units must be occupied by individuals with incomes equal to 80 percent or less of area median income. Vos said the Alexander Co. is exceeding the requirements by committing two thirds of the units to individuals who earn no more than 60 percent of area median income.

Vos said he agrees that any changes to rental amounts would require the approval of the NC Housing Finance Agency, but said he wasn’t sure if the loan agreement requires city approval for changes.

The loan agreement includes a provision allowing the developer a total developer fee of $1.9 million, adding that $950,000 is deferred and that the amount “shall only be collected upon compliance with the terms of the loan documents.”

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