First phase of new Civic Park Apartments should be finished by August 2015

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

SALISBURY — Extensive land clearing and grading is underway at Brenner Avenue and Standish Street in preparation for construction of new Civic Park Apartments.
Sam Foust, executive director of the Salisbury Housing Authority, gave Salisbury City Council an update Tuesday on the project, which will be done in two phases and ultimately provide 170 new mixed-income apartments.
Phase I will have 80 units in three buildings, which will be two and three stories high. The first building of Phase I should be completed by May 1, 2015, and all of Phase I, including a 3,000-square-foot community building, will be finished by August 2015.
Phase I is being constructed on vacant land purchased from Livingstone College.
Construction will start in January 2015 on Phase II, which will provide 90 units within 25 different buildings, including one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and town homes.
The first buildings of Phase II, which covers a 9.95-acre site, will be completed in October 2015, and all 25 units will be finished by March 2016.
The entire development will house families at 60 percent of area’s median income or below.
The project, part of a proposed total investment of $21 million in the West End, has received total federal tax credits of $1,465,000 through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.
The city of Salisbury has committed $150,000 in HOME funds to the project. Laurel Street Residential Development of Charlotte is the master developer, working in partnership with the housing authority.
Work started in August on Phase I. Phase II will begin in January.
The second phase will have new amenities such as a screened-in porch for the resident clubhouse, a second children’s playground, picnic area and tot lot.
In addition, residents will have access to things provided in the first phase, such as the resident clubhouse with business and fitness centers, an outdoor gazebo, picnic area and children’s playground.
In time, the present Civic Park Apartments, which were built in 1953, will be demolished and families living there will have to be temporarily relocated.
Through attrition and by not renting to any new tenants, the housing authority has stockpiled 70 apartments throughout its project areas which are now empty and will be available to current Civic Park residents for temporary housing.
If qualified, those same residents will be offered spots back in the new Civic Park Apartments once they are completed.
Foust said he has assigned a special projects manager to help the current Civic Park residents with the transitions ahead.
“We’re going to take care of them,” Foust said.
Foust reported that 36 families will return to Phase I once it is completed. The remaining 44 families will return at the completion of Phase II.
Priority in moving Civic Park residents to other available apartments will be given to families with children in elementary school. Efforts will be made to keep those children in their current school zone, so they don’t have to change teachers and schools.
All residents have received letters explaining what’s happening, Foust said.
The resident-driven plan for West End also calls for other neighborhood improvements including housing rehabilitation, increasing youth programming, better access to health services and beautification initiatives.
“Now that funding for Civic Park redevelopment has been secured, we can refocus our work with the neighborhood and the broader community to reach the city’s goals,” Mayor Paul Woodson said in an earlier press release.
“Plans can now proceed within a relatively short time span to completely redevelop Civic Park apartments, and accomplish an important goal of the West End Transformation Plan.”
Phase I of the development was awarded a $700,000 tax credit in 2013. Phase II just recently won a $765,000 tax credit.
The tax credits will be sold to investors to cover more than half the cost of development. Remaining costs will be funded by subsidized loans from the state and the City of Salisbury as well as conventional loans.
“We are very excited to see the first phase of Civic Park apartments in progress and even more excited to win the tax credit awards for the next phase,” Dionne Nelson, principal of Laurel Street Residential, said in a press release
“It has been wonderful working with the City of Salisbury and the Salisbury Housing Authority; the revitalization of the West End Community is a perfect example of how organizations can unite to initiate change for the betterment of the community.”
The new Civic Park development could undergo a name change, depending on what input Laurel Street Residential and the housing authority receive from the West End neighborhood and others.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.