Old Hospital Project Advances With Approval Of Tax Credit | New

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Haywood County and the City of Waynesville won an affordable housing victory with the approval of a federal low-income housing tax credit claim on Friday afternoon.

Tax credits have been approved for the Brookmont Lofts project, an affordable housing complex that will renovate the old Waynesville hospital and create approximately 50 affordable rental units.

This is the fourth attempt to obtain these tax credits, after three successive near misses for similar projects.

In January, the Haywood County Council of Commissioners voted to sell the property, located on North Main Street in Waynesville, for $ 225,000 to a developer, subject to approval of tax credits.

Without the credits, which represent a windfall of $ 6.9 million over 10 years, the deal would have been made between the county and the developer of Brookmont Lofts Landmark Realty. As it stands, Landmark has until September to make a decision on whether to continue with the project.

Haywood County Special Projects Administrator David Francis said it will be the largest housing project the county has seen in at least 10 years once it gets underway, and that it couldn’t come at a better time.

“We’re doing a new housing study for the county, and there’s already some preliminary reading on it, on the workforce and affordable housing needs,” he said. . “We are looking at a broad spectrum, things for seniors and for families, and this project is aimed more at seniors and also veterans. This will be the biggest project we’ve had in this area since The Laurels, which were built around 2007.

The approval of the tax credits is an overall victory for the county, said Kevin Ensley, chairman of the Haywood County Commissioners Council.

“It’s a big win for taxpayers because we don’t have to spend $ 7,000 a month to maintain the building,” he said. “And then it’s also a victory for the workforce and for housing for the elderly and veterans. There will be many more one and two bedroom apartments available for rent.

Good planning has been done to meet the criteria for applying for tax credits, which lays the foundation for a quick start of the project.

“They’ve done some of the groundwork already, they know the environmental issues and things that they need to do as far as they allow with the Town of Waynesville, those types of issues,” Francis said.

Landmark Realty’s director of development and construction management John Stiltner said the team is committed to the project and ready to continue the process as soon as possible.

“The next step is to start working on architecture and engineering,” he said. “We need to put down on paper what we’re going to do with the building, so that we can submit it to the state’s historical agency.”

Waynesville has supported this iteration of the project since its inception, issuing letters of support in early May before tax credit claims were submitted.

In the letters, Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown offered a number of in-kind services to developers, including waiving building permits and faucet fees up to $ 7,230, providing water pipes and sewer, design and permit fees up to $ 58,000 and construction of sidewalks to meet city specifications valued at up to $ 106,842.

Waynesville City Council also declared the area surrounding the former hospital an economic redevelopment area, which moved the project to a smaller pool of applicants, increasing the chances that the project would be selected for tax credits.

Ensley said he was grateful for the city’s willingness to move the project forward.

“I was thankful they declared it a redevelopment area, I know that helped,” Ensley said. “It was a piece of the puzzle, and I think there were a lot of these little pieces of the puzzle that came together to make it a success this time around.”

With so many unsuccessful attempts to redevelop the old hospital property in the rearview mirror, this go-around appeared to be the county’s last attempt to keep the building intact before throwing in the towel. Without the tax credits the outlook for the county was not good – not only is the old hospital a historically important piece of Haywood County heritage, it would have been extremely expensive to demolish the building and prepare the site for another potential buyer. .

“We probably should have demolished it. It would have been around $ 1 million, from what I’ve been told, ”Ensley said. “Then basically we would have a prime vacant property, but we wouldn’t get our money back on it. “

Francis said he was delighted to be able to salvage the building rather than demolish it.

“Challenges present opportunities and opportunities present challenges. It had a bit of both for us, ”he said. “But, at the end of the day, we’re renovating North Carolina County’s first owned hospital, and it’s pretty cool that it’s still around for over 90 years. It makes me happy that we were able to save him.

Stiltner echoed Francis’ sentiments, saying it was a relief to see the project succeed after so much groundwork to get to this point.

“It’s kind of like when a girl at school gave you the cold shoulder, and eventually she lets you take her to the ball,” Stiltner said. “These buildings in the communities that we are looking at is really a love story. And then to come to a community like Waynesville and fall in love with the community too, I have to say that since I started working on this project in 2015, there has never been a single moment where I was willing to give up. .


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