Work on a 60-unit affordable housing complex in Franklin is set to begin in January and town officials anticipate the project will benefit multiple areas of the community.
The Westgate Terrace Affordable Housing Complex, which will be constructed on 4.4 acres behind the Westgate Plaza Ingles on Roller Mill Road, is in the final stages of the planning process and is projected to be completed by fall of 2013.
According to Franklin Town Planner Derek Roland, leaders in Franklin were instrumental in obtaining the necessary requirements to finalize the $7.6 million project which alloted funding from the North Carolina Housing Agency to make the project possible.
“The project was funded through the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, following an extremely competitive and drawn out process,” said Roland. “The Town of Franklin, as illustrated through working with the Flatiron Group, remains committed to bringing economic development into our municipality’s growth zone.”
According to Developer Hollis Fitch of the Flatiron Group of Charlotte, “The funding cycle for low income housing tax credits is very competitive and each state annually adopts a plan for selecting projects through a competitive process. This year, the N.C. Housing Finance Agency established a tiebreaker criteria for all projects which was the lowest amount of credits needed per unit. In order for projects to reduce the amount of tax credits needed, it is necessary that the local governments participate cooperatively to the greatest extent possible. The Town of Franklin’s collaboration was instrumental in reducing the amount of tax credits needed to finance the project, which in turn made the project competitive enough to win an allocation.”
Roland says the group in charge of the construction project will seek out local contractors whenever possible to provide the community with an additional economic incentive. “Aside from creating construction related jobs in the short term, the Westgate Terrace Affordable Housing Complex will provide the Town and its economic development zone with numerous economic benefits in the future including giving the Town and Macon EDC [Economic Development Commission] an additional tool to attract and retain a skilled workforce and increase consumer spending in the area for those local people involved in the construction of the project as well as those who occupy the complex moving forward,” said Roland.
Hollis' father, Paul Fitch, attended the September Franklin Board of Alderman meeting on Tuesday to thank the town board for all of their work with the project.
“We first came to the town board three years ago and wanted to begin work on this complex,” said Fitch. “I just wanted to say thank you to Mayor Collins, the Aldermen, former Town Planner Mr. Grubermann, and Derek Roland for working with us during this process.”
Fitch also stated that because of the town's help securing the right paperwork and documents for the project, the housing complex will be state-of-the-art. “We are now able to build
Franklin a first class facility that the community can be proud of, and we are looking forward to doing that.” Franklin's Town Manager Sam Greenwood noted that in addition to the economic boost of the housing complex construction Franklin will experience, the people who will benefit the most are the families who will have the option for quality, affordable housing.
“The program is designed to provide quality housing at a reduced rate for people under the medium income status,” explained Greenwood. “Those with low income who qualify for the reduced rental rates because of the tax credits given to the developers will be given reduced rent and additional housing options in the area.”
Roland explained that about 42 percent of Macon County’s population falls in the category of those qualifying for the subsidized housing rates. "The subsidy doesn't go to the renter like other housing assistance programs, but instead goes to the owner of the property," said Roland. "The owners will gets tax credits from the North Carolina Housing Agency which will allow a lower mortgage and lower rental rates."
Roland noted that Macon County has a high percentage of elderly and working-class families that will qualify and benefit from the housing complex.