12/05/18 – Caldwell studying housing

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by admin


December 5, 2018



By Virginia Annable


In an attempt to bring in more housing development, Caldwell County will commission a study to show exactly what the unmet demand here is.


Local business leaders have been saying for the past several years that although the local economy is growing jobs — more than 50 new industries have opened here since 2008, and about 1,000 jobs have been added each of the past four years, including many higher-paying jobs in high-skilled industries – a significant number of new hires struggle to find a place they want to live inside Caldwell County.


Despite that, the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission has struggled to lure developers to build new market-rate, multi-family apartment projects, something that the area has not seen in over 30 years.


The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners has approved hiring the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative to study the current housing market, point out what it lacks and lay out solutions to make new development work in the area, according to DFI’s proposal.


The School of Government says on its website that DFI partners with local governments to attract private investment for transformative projects by providing specialized finance and development expertise.


The study will cost the county just under $24,000 and take about six months to complete, according to the proposal.


After the study, the county could again hire the School of Government to create specific development plans for particular sites in hopes of enticing developers to build there.


EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray said earlier this year that the housing and income statistics that are available have not been enough for developers to make the case to their lenders that there is a need here for new multi-family housing.


Nearly 85 percent of existing housing here is already occupied, and much of what is vacant is either dilapidated or older and in need of renovation, she said: More than half of local housing units are more than 40 years old, and nearly 90 percent were built before 2000.


Annual surveys of major local employers by the EDC have found that an increasing number of new hires live outside Caldwell County: 30 percent in 2015, 34 percent in 2016, and 40 percent in 2017, Murray said.


The Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation bought two properties in 2017 — a house on Tremont Circle and a condominium on College Avenue – because of the difficulty professionals being recruited by the hospital had in finding a place to stay when considering a move to Caldwell County.

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