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City Council, April 8

Owner seeks City funds for apartment redevelopment
City to support McClellanville's efforts to fund dredging of ICW
Marc Knapp

The most interesting item on last night’s agenda was not discussed. It was there for “informational purposes only”. Presumably it will come up for a vote at a future meeting and we expect, and hope. there will be a lot of questions.

The documentation on the item was poor and some sentences did not make sense. The potential issue is a $1 million, 5 year loan, to the owner of St Andrews Gardens and Ashley Arms Apartment Complexes in West Ashley. These complexes comprise of some 400 apartments, most of which are/were in some way government subsidized. Half the requested funds would come from the Community Development Block Grants or the HOME Investment Partnership programs, both sponsored by HUD. The balance would come from Parcel B funding. Parcel B is part of the original Ansonborough Field development. The City has been paid $10 million of the of the $16 million sale price. The City has already committed $4.5 million of the proceeds so not a lot is left, though sufficient to fund the request for the apartment complexes.

The complexes are privately owned and from what can be gleaned from the public documents, are to be bought by Hampstead Partners. The following are extracts from the public documentation.

“The acquisition by Hampstead Partners would equate to the redevelopment of 428 apartments that are currently in substandard condition”.
“The $1 million request would be targeted to 64 apartments. The apartments will undergo a substantial rehabilitation and will rent to persons earning 50% and 60% of the Area Median Income”.
“Two hundred and twenty eight (228) apartments will rent to persons earning 60% and below the Area Median income and would be rehabilitated with tax exempt bond financing”.
“and One hundred (100) apartments are supported by Section 8 housing”.

We have no issue with the provision of affordable housing. But these complexes are privately owned and are “for profit”. Presumably the original owners received support and benefits from government entities when the complexes were built. Further, the owners derived profits from their investment. Apartment complexes, like most structures, need to be maintained. This is a normal cost and is born by owners.

So we ask why the owners are coming to the City for funds to perform a task that they should fund. The Community Development Committee of the City agreed to the request. We hope Council is not so compliant.

Other items discussed last night included:

  • A request from the Mayor of McClellanville that the City of Charleston join it in seeking funding to dredge the Intracoastal Waterway. Dredging has been neglected in recent years and the ICW has become less navigable. The Mayor asked the City of Charleston for a Resolution in support in seeking Federal and State funding, and assistance in “pursuing at the local level an immediate funding source that could be used to demonstrate local commitment and potentially secure additional state effort”. Council was unanimous in its support.

  • An amendment – the 8th – to the purchase agreement between Concord Park Associates (CPA) and the City. The closing on Tract C (excluding Tract C Affordable) was extended to April 30, 2015. In consideration for the extension, CPA will pay the City $100,000 which will be credited to the purchase price. The first installment of $25,000 has been paid and the $75,000 balance is due at the end of this month. Tract C is one of the parcels that made up Ansonborough Field. Under the agreement with the City, CPA was originally to develop the whole site. But the recession put paid to its original plans.

  • Approval of a contract for $464,000 to construct Higgins Pier. The pier will project into the Ashley River and will be located at the terminus of the Ashley River Bikeway in West Ashley.

  • Approval of a temporary moratorium on the issue of certificates of appropriateness for vehicles conducting tours in the Historic Districts of the City. This action was deemed appropriate following the City’s plan to analyze all facets of the tourism industry affecting the City. As part of this analysis, the City has created a Task force specifically dedicated to this study. The accompanying documentation didn’t say it directly but clearly, a cap close to present levels could be recommended.

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