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Apartment complex wins rezoning approval

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Although it’s unlikely, Salisbury City Council members said they hope both apartment complexes they’ve approved in the past month will win tax credits and go forward.
Council on Tuesday gave the nod for rezoning of an 80-unit complex called Sterling Trace planned to go behind Bank of North Carolina on West Jake Alexander Boulevard.
Last month, members approved similar campus-style apartments called Westgate Commons behind the new Aldi at Brenner Avenue and Jake Alexander Boulevard.
Both developments are competing for tax credits from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency and would serve working families with incomes between roughly $26,000 and $40,000, which includes starting salaries for teachers and firefighters.
A third development proposed to go behind Time Warner Cable on Lincolnton Road with 55 units for elderly residents is also competing for tax credits.
Preston Mitchell, Planning and Development Services manager for the city, said it’s highly unlikely more than one project will win tax credits, and none of them may win.
Dustin Mills of Greenville, N.C., developer for Sterling Trace, told the Salisbury Planning Board last week that even if he doesn’t win the financing, he would pursue another source of funding.
“We have spent a good deal of money on this project,” he told the Planning Board. “Our intent would be to make this become a reality.”
Total investment in Sterling Trace would top $10.2 million. Westgate Commons is a more than $7 million project.
Developer Rodney Queen praised both for their campus-style design, where apartment buildings face each other instead of a public street.
Before the unanimous vote, Queen urged the council to “approve a development that can promote lower income housing for a lot of people who so desperately need it in Salisbury.”
With both developments promoting green space, sidewalks and recreational areas, “what you are seeing is the wave of the future, and it’s so important for our city,” Queen said.
Mark Lewis, president of Bank of North Carolina, also spoke in favor of Sterling Trace.
“The designer on this plan did a masterful job,” Lewis said.
Michael Turner, who lives on Sunset Drive, said his home floods due to storm water from the Castlewood development and he is concerned Sterling Trace could make the problem even worse. A city engineer said storm water from Sterling Trace will go under Salisbury Village into an area designed to contain the runoff, not to Sunset Drive.
City Manager Doug Paris said a city staffer will visit with Turner to help determine the cause of his flooding.
Council member Maggie Blackwell praised campus-style design and sidewalks but said the proposed developments are another reason for the city to study pedestrian issues in the Jake Alexander Boulevard corridor.
“This is a critical spot in our city,” Blackwell said. “We can build all the sidewalks we want but if anyone wants to cross the street, he is taking his life in his hands.”
The city will host a pedestrian workshop 7 p.m. May 24 at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA for input on pedestrian activities and expectations in the area of Jake Alexander Boulevard from Brenner Avenue to Castlewood Drive. Residents of surrounding neighborhoods are invited.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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