Developer says 15 homes currently being constructed, planned throughout East Spencer

Published 12:04 am Friday, April 1, 2022

EAST SPENCER — Town officials and Harrisburg-based developer PresPro Custom Homes say the construction of single-family affordable housing is underway in East Spencer.

Since the end of 2021, PresPro has purchased more than 30 lots throughout the town and area to build single-family housing that “is both affordable and high quality,” said COO John Lambert. The plan is to construct “cottage style” homes between 1,300-1,800 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms that could start in the low $200,000s.

Douglas said the company continues to request permits to build the homes. Lambert said 15 homes are currently being constructed, with eight of those considered active sites and the others in the preliminary stages of site work. The first builds will be located on Jackson, Long, Torbush, Robin and Moore streets.

Additionally, Douglas said developers have accommodated some requests from the town along the way, such as minor facade changes to better improve the look of the homes.

“We’re eager to see how those new homes will be built,” Douglas said.

Meanwhile, a similar project could be possible with Charlotte-based All Pro Builders, which is purchasing lots from individual owners.

The town is also working to sell some of its surplus and vacant lots. To date, the town has collected more than $550,000 from such sales. But some difficulties have delayed that process. For example, one deed lists three different properties that are split, so the town has needed some surveying to correct such deeds. Making those corrections must be completed before the town can sell the property.

But of the 11 lots available to real estate agents, six are under contract, Douglas said.

Lambert said when he first eyed East Spencer more than a year ago, it was “far from ideal for new home builders.” But the lack of activity and the impression that the town had been “passed over” attracted him.

“The town had not had a new home bought or sold in the past 10 years,” Lambert said. “Our company, which is based in Cabarrus County, was beginning to build in Rowan County so it was close enough for us to consider East Spencer as a possibility. After requesting a meeting with Mayor Barbara Mallett and hearing her heart for the town, I went back to our team and started looking for opportunities to acquire a few lots in the area to test the market.”

The timing was also right because the market is in need of more affordable workforce housing as many are being priced out of nearby areas. East Spencer making progress toward its infrastructure helped his decision as well.

“Together we were able to dovetail our efforts for the overall good of the town,” Lambert said. “We look forward to building quality, modern and affordable workforce housing.”

Lambert said lending partners will be offering pre-qualification through the USDA and federally backed loan programs. For more information, contact www.prespro.com

Douglas said he is currently working to submit a grant from the state’s Rural Transformation Grant Fund created by state lawmakers in 2021. The fund contains $48 million to help tier one and tier two counties. Counties in North Carolina are ranked by their economic health based on average unemployment rate, median household income, percentage growth in population and adjusted property tax base per capita. Rowan County falls within tier two, with tier one encompassing the most economically distressed counties.

The Rural Transformation Grant can support Main Street and downtown investment and revitalization, initiatives that help create resilient neighborhoods, community enhancements that spur economic growth and professional development and education programs to build local government capacity.

Douglas said such a grant could help the town purchase a handful of properties that could then be developed into something else. It could also aid the town’s efforts to clean-up and remove such blights.

Douglas said since he began working for the town in the summer of 2021, he’s heard negativity from residents based on the town’s history and lack of economic activity. But town officials and the board have worked to promote a new reputation for the town: one where “increased development and economic development is possible.”

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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