4/20 and 5/4 meetings summaries: BRT, affordable housing, TIG, stormwater
We had Council Meetings Tuesday, April 20, and May 4. Below is a summary.
1. We took steps towards an upcoming bus rapid transit (BRT) route by endorsing South Wilmington Street extension as the preferred route alignment for the southern section of the Southern Corridor line. More details about this route here.
I’ve written about BRT several times. In 2016, Wake County voters approved a transit-dedicated half-cent sales tax to expand and better connect public transit throughout Wake County. Part of the plan is to construct 4 BRT lines. The first BRT line is along New Bern Avenue with construction expected to start next year and service beginning 2024. The city is hosting a month-long open house, and tomorrow, May 11, there is a Q&A concerning the New Bern Avenue BRT line. More details here.
In addition, the city is also gathering public feedback on Western Blvd line. More information here.
2. We authorized a conditional loan of nearly $6.5 million in City gap financing funds to support the construction of 282 affordable rental units. The Rental Development Program is one of several City programs working to create or preserve affordable housing. The purpose of the program is to provide developers of affordable, multi-family housing with low-interest loans. The money we approved will help fund two projects located in close proximity to downtown and along future BRT lines.
3. We directed staff to continue our small business parking relief program. As you may recall, in December 2020, we directed staff to create a free parking program for workers of restaurant, retail, and personal service businesses downtown. We’ve extended this program through the fall.
4. We approved a draft Tax Increment Grant (TIG) policy with additional language to clarify that public engagement is to occur early in the process and prior to negotiation of TIG terms for grants involving the Public Benefit Category. Next steps are staff will follow up with Council on how a TIG would line up with a rezoning.
A TIG is an additional economic development tool used by cities and counties to pay for public infrastructure and other public benefits. Under a TIG, the developer, not the City, assumes the risk to design and build the public infrastructure, facilities or benefit programs supported by the grant. The City does not borrow money to pay for the project. The developer is paid by a financial reimbursement grant equal to a set percentage of NEW property tax revenues created by the project for a set period of time. No grant payments will be made by the City until performance by the developer is verified and all property taxes associated with the project have been paid.
Raleigh did not have a TIG policy, but Wake County and Charlotte do, and Charlotte has utilized it on many projects.
Under Raleigh’s policy, a public hearing is required before any TIG agreements are presented to the City Council for a vote. For the City to participate in a TIG agreement, the project must demonstrate measurable benefits to the public. The benefits may include jobs, infrastructure, and/or affordable housing.
5. We approved a text change to strengthen regulations for developments in the floodplain, including new restrictions on the development of vacant property. These new restrictions were studied by the Stormwater Management Advisory Commission (SMAC) and a stakeholder group of interested parties. This is an initiative that Council Member Nicole Stewart championed for some time, and I appreciate her leadership on environmental issues.
We have a special Work Session tomorrow, Tuesday, May 11 at 4 p.m. regarding rebounding from COVID, where we will hear from downtown business owners and residents. You can watch on the City of Raleigh Youtube, website, and RTN 11.