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Development and cops: Live blogging City Council, Nov. 5, 2015

 It's 2:30, and Kevin Dick, director of the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, is making a presentation about the proposed development at the Jackson Street site near the Durham bus station.

KD: The takeaway from the Sept. 10 meeting was that the city could draft RFP for various types of development. We hope to elicit feedback today to see if we're on the right track. We also have a draft timeline. It would allow time for drafting, response, negotiation, the setting of conditions and considerations for station improvements.

Today's update would be in lieu of the Dec. 10 update we had planned. But we can come back then with something more detailed. The preliminary plat has been completed, and an appraisal will be complete in early December.

Jan. 15 is a goal for an RFP release date.

[December 4 is the proposed deadline for the city to present draft RFP for the project. However, it could take a year for the entire process—from RFP to bid award—to be completed.] 

A memo outlines possibilities for the Jackson Street project: All would contain a neighborhood commercial component and structured parking, plus:
100 percent affordable housing
Mixed-income, including affordable housing
Market rate and/or workforce housing

 The review process we're planning has us categorizing the various options, and having a scoring system to have proposals within each category to be scored. We bring that to council, which will then decide which option is most palatable to them.

Steve Schewel: Each one would be scored in its own category, and you would bring the highest score of each development option.

Bill Bell: I've heard from the majority of council members that they want to see mixed-income. If that's what majority of council wants why even go down the market rate path? I thought we had decided informally mixed-income, even to the extent we've discussed the percentage. 

KD: Basically how we interpreted the direction is to allow with flexibility and creativity.

SS: You're saying get rid of Option 3?

BB: Yeah, and we need to determine terminology, [percentage of AMI]. I'm going to be looking at how will it work, how will it be financed?

Tom Bonfield: We don't know how the financing will be structured. In February we'll receive final report from housing consultant and know what we'll be looking for there. I'm concerned that we will be arbitrary if we say a project has to be x percent affordable, x percent market rate. 

BB: When you say you want to have mixed-income, and you get into specifics about the incomes and the percentage of income ... you can have commercial stuff on it is great. The example CAN brought forth from Raleigh was excellent. That's what I thought people looking at. I think if we tell the developers what we're looking for we can see what they come up with.

Eddie Davis: I don't see a problem getting more information even if we don't use it.

BB: If I'm in the development and I know what is expected, then I can decide if I want to take my time to apply for the RFP. I'm not in a rush. The property isn't going anywhere. I'm not bound by any timetable. We should try this, and if it doesn't work, then go back out.

SS: I agree Mr. Mayor.

Diane Catotti: What is mixed-income? Is Southside?

BB: Yes, but Southside, there's a different ratio [of market-rate and affordable]. It lets developers know how to put together a financing plan.

DC: What's workforce housing? I'm trying to understand the difference between two and three.

BB: I suggest we take out the term workforce housing, go for percentages of income.

KD: Workforce goes up to 80 percent of area median income.

DC: I feel like you're about to get a lot of really good information from the consultant. You say, Mr. Mayor, you know what you want. But my question is Do you know what you want? We'll get information about how much affordable housing is within a half-mile of downtown.

BB: The consultant is looking at all of Durham. We're looking at Jackson Street. 

DC: What is the structured parking? Public.

KD: To support residential and other uses. People would access spaces for neighborhood commercial uses. Parking should not be on the street. Surface parking isn't possible, so the intent is to serve the entire development regardless of use.

BB: The issue they have at the Lofts of Southside. The developer planned for parking for the residents, but there's not enough for guests.

TB: The idea of how prescriptive we are, I'm afraid that will present a challenge. Is it about the total number of affordable units that can be built on that 2.1 acres at a finance-able way, or is it the mix?

BB: It's about the mix. The developers will tell you what they can do. Whatever you build, we want 20 percent market rate and 80 percent affordable, let's say.

TB: OK, let's say a developer says we can do that, and we'll have 80 affordable units and 20 market rate. But if it's 70 percent affordable and 30 percent market rate, we can have 100 units that are affordable. That's what I mean, do we care about the mix or the greatest number of affordable units on the land?

BB: I think we're underestimating what the market we'll do if we tell them what we want. 

TB: We can do that, but I think it's limiting in what somebody might be able to propose.

SS: We don't want Option 3. I don't want to pursue it. How you specify the affordability, maybe you could phrase it "optimally 80 percent of the units to be for people below 60 percent area median income." You can set it as a target but say we're open to other ways and offer flexibility to a developer: What do you have to show us?

BB: I agree with that, but you do what you say you're going to do, and we said 20-80 [market-affordable ].

BB: Again, this is about Jackson Street.

KD: I would offer, that if we eliminate or include options, there is a due diligence that city staff continue to perform on this site, and there are conditions that may require financial resources [for a developer] to build there. Knowing whatever conditions are presented in the RFP, a developer could say we can't do this mix or offer this option. Conditions of the property could determine what could be built there. The property has significant uniqueness on the land.[KD is not specifying the conditions].

 BB: What I want is 20-80 on this site.

KD: So should I remove the market-rate option?

BB: Yes, and the 80 is for people earning 60 percent of AMI and below.

[End of conversation]

[Council has gone into closed session.]



Given that the parcel is directly adjacent to the Triangle's most frequently-serviced bus station, and a rather large parking deck (which IIRC is planned to have floors added to the top soon), does the Jackson Street site really need to have its own structured parking?

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