7/10/2019 – Study backs push for apartments

Posted on: July 10th, 2019 by admin

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July 10, 2019

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By Guy Lucas
guylucas@newstopicnews.com

 

July 10, 2019 12:00 AM

 

There appears to be enough of an unmet demand for market-rate apartments in Caldwell County that several hundred could be filled quickly if they were built, according to results of the first phase a study commissioned by the county.

 

The median rent in Caldwell County is $460 a month, but that’s not where the demand is, according to the study. There is just a 1 percent vacancy rate in the apartments renting for $700 to $1,100 a month, and the small number with higher rents basically are rarely ever vacant.

 

That alone would indicate a potential to quickly fill 270 to 380 apartments renting for more than $700 a month, according to the study.

 

When comparing the demographic and income groups where Caldwell is seeing population growth with rental patterns in the rest of the state, there is potential to fill more than 1,000 new apartments by 2023, the study said.

 

Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said the study confirms what local employers have often said in recent years, but the study provides solid data that will help developers justify the financing needed for an apartment project. Murray presented the phase one results to the EDC’s board on Tuesday.

 

“I can tell you if we built 150 units they’d be gone as soon as they were built,” she said.

 

The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners voted in December to hire the Development Finance Initiative at UNC’s School of Government to conduct the study in hopes of building the case for developers to build multi-family housing here. No market-rate apartment developments have been built in the county in over 30 years.

 

A survey of local employers that was part of the study found that 81 percent said that the tightness of Caldwell’s housing market has become a recruitment problem as they try to grow.

 

Caldwell County’s economy has added about 1,000 new jobs a year the past few years, but with no new housing being built, an increasing number of workers are living in neighboring counties and commuting.

 

The study found that 15,400 employees of Caldwell County businesses commute here from outside the county.

The study also identified five sites as having high potential for success with a multifamily development, based on their size, infrastructure and proximity to such things as retail and grocery businesses, and the EDC will use that information in talks with developers who had expressed some interest before the study was done, Murray said.

 

County officials will decide in the coming weeks whether to have DFI move on to the proposed second phase of the housing study, which would include recommendations of steps local governments could take.

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