On Monday, Winston-Salem City Council sold several city-owned lots in the Northeast Ward to developers who promise to increase the supply of affordable housing. The price for each lot? Just $1.

A resolution bequeathing four vacant city-owned lots located at 1139 E. 22nd St., 1135 E. 22nd St., 931 E. 21st St. and 1718 Bramblebrook Lane to Glabex Consortium LLC traveled through last week’s committee meetings before going before the full council for approval. Council members also conveyed four other city-owned lots located along Cleveland Avenue to Liberty East Redevelopment, Inc on Monday.

State law allows the city of Winston-Salem to convey city‑owned property for the purpose of increasing affordable housing. City Attorney Angela Carmon told council members during a  community development/housing/general government committee meeting on Sept. 11 that there is a provision stating that construction must be completed within 24 months or the lots return to the city “with everything that’s on the lot.”

The two properties on 22nd Street range are 0.17 acres each and have a tax value of $2,500 each, the lot on 21st Street is 0.31 acres and has a tax of $2,300, while the lot on Bramblebrook Lane is 0.47 acres and valued at $8,500. 

The Northeast Ward, which is where the lots are located, is a majority-minority ward, about 55 percent Black, according to Census data presented during a June 2022 city council meeting.

According to the 2018 Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Housing Study and Needs Assessment, zip code 27105, where the lots are located, also has “the most older adult residents where a significant amount of older properties is also located.” According to the report, “lower income residents with limited financial resources often struggle to make ends meet, stretching the budget to address often emergency housing problems and property upkeep. This is especially true for the older populations living on a fixed income and in neighborhoods with deteriorating housing and maintenance concerns.”

The report also noted that “East/Northeast and Southeast Winston have the lowest per-acre and per parcel values” and that “East/Northeast neighborhoods also had the highest number of vacant residential parcels,” making it one of the most developable areas in the city.

During the Sept. 11 committee meeting, committee members Denise D. Adams, Annette Scippio, Kevin Mundy and Robert Clark traded pros and cons, ultimately recommending to the full council that the lots be sold to Glabex Consortium in 3-1 vote. East Ward Council Member Scippio cast the sole dissenting vote. 

Scippio said that she was not in favor of giving the land to for-profit businesses for the low price of $1. 

“I believe that nonprofits who have committed to good housing, it’s fair to help them in constructing affordable housing,” Scippio said, adding that she wasn’t so certain about opening it up to “anyone at $1 unless that’s going to be the policy of the council. It’s gotta be fair for everyone, whether it’s a non-profit or a for-profit.”

Northeast Ward Council Member Barbara Hanes Burke stated that some council members had concerns that certain lots in East Winston would be difficult to sell. 

“That’s where the $1 amount for selling the lots came from,” she said.

“We’re trying to make this as attractive as possible for potential builders,” Burke added.

Burke said that the ultimate purpose of selling these lots at these low prices was to “transform and rebuild” the community. She stated that she wants to transform communities where “no investment has occurred for years” in the most equitable way that they can.

Northwest Ward council member Jeff MacIntosh said that he was “very comfortable offering these for $1 because the tax value is relatively low.”

“We wanted to put as many lots back into use as possible,” he said. 

MacIntosh agreed that a policy is necessary, as multiple businesses may be interested in a particular lot in the future.

He added that if the city can get “four more houses into production and hand four sets of keys over, at this rate” he was “perfectly happy.”

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