by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
I was sitting here looking over Asheville City Council’s agenda. Not much is going on in the final days of three moderate progressives on the board, who I shall dearly miss. The main thing seems to be two real estate issues. I was wondering how all this fit with a story moral about government trying to outdo the private real estate sector and always falling short. In the first instance, the city is asking, by way of the consent agenda, permission to sell some property:
In 2008, the City established a deferred Housing Trust Fund Loan on property at 600 N. Skyloft Drive, Unit A-201 (PIN 9648-68-1640-C201) in the amount of $30,000. In July 2014, the City of Asheville purchased this condominium at a foreclosure auction in order to resell it and protect the City’s original investment. The City’s total purchase price at auction was $100,438.00. Thereafter, the Housing and Community Development Committee approved marketing this property to City Employees with affordable housing restrictions placed on the deed, specifically: potential buyers could not earn over 100% of median household income; the Skyloft condo must be their primary residence; and the affordability restrictions would apply to
any resale. There was little interest in the property from City employees and the marketing was extended to all county employees and then to all government employees. As of October 31, 2015, the City has paid out $4,730 in bills to include an unpaid property tax bill, utility bills and condominium owner fees. Including the original Housing Trust Fund loan, the City has invested a total of $135,168 in this property. The unit was advertised for sale at $140,000. This price would allow the City to break even if the sale included buyers’ agent fees and some closing costs and still maintain affordability for income eligible buyers. In October of 2015, the marketing effort was extended to the general public and Aubrey Ray submitted a qualifying application.
In the other instance, we hear the ongoing saga of Eagle Market Place. The staff report is so politically-correct, I’d have to talk to somebody to find out what it means. What I gather is the project needs another $3 million loan to avoid arbitration. Instead of asking the city for more money, though, they are asking for elimination of interest on the city’s Housing Trust Fund loan and the early release of proceeds from pass-through funds. They are requesting permission to designate more residential units as Workforce “to pay new debt service.” I think that means they lost Affordable units. What would be meaningful to me would be to see what the original project entailed, and what it was supposed to cost, and what about the plans has been revised with what kinds of overruns. I don’t expect to see it, because government does not concern itself with such things.