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City mulls affordable housing density incentives

CHARLOTTE – New neighborhoods built in some of Charlotte’s traditionally upscale areas could see an influx of affordable housing if two text amendments are approved by City Council.

The amendments were drafted by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Planning Department to offer density incentives to builders who include a certain amount of affordable housing in building new neighborhoods. One amendment is for single-family housing, the other is for multifamily.

Shad Spencer, a Charlotte Mecklenburg planner, said the goal is to address the need for more affordable housing in neighborhoods that traditionally haven’t had much of it.

“It’s in those areas that are above the average home value in Charlotte – I think it’s $153,000,” Spencer said. “Basically that would look at south Charlotte, the Steele Creek area, some parts of north Charlotte.”

Spencer said that these amendments originated in a citizen advisory group last September, which was directed by the Charlotte city council.

If the amendments are passed, single-family builders will be able to put three units more than the base density on land zoned for R-3, R-4, R-5 and R-6. Multifamily builders will be able to build two units more than base density on land zoned R-8MF and three units more on land zoned R-12MF.

“(The goal) is just to incentivize the private sector to include affordable housing – to market a certain percentage of their homes 80 percent or below the area median income,” Spencer said.

Of those density bonuses, Spencer said half of the additional units builders are granted will have to be targeted towards that 80 percent or below.

He said that the planning department anticipated pushback from residents of the neighborhoods targeted for affordable housing and made accommodations.

“We’ve put safeguards in place to cap the amount of affordable housing that could be in those developments,” Spencer said. “For the single family (amendment), no more than 25 percent of the overall development could be the affordable housing. It’s not like the whole development would be affordable, 75 percent would be at market rate.”

A public hearing for the single-family text amendment is scheduled for Dec. 17 and the hearing for multifamily amendment has been deferred to January.

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