The Wake County Board of Commissioners this afternoon put off any decision on the controversial George's Mews affordable-housing project on Glenwood Avenue in the Brooklyn-Glenwood neighborhood.
After hearing emotional comments both pro and con on the project during a two-hour public hearing, the commissioners voted to table Commissioner Lindy Brown's motion to approve the $560,893 grant to CASA, a nonprofit housing corporation in Raleigh. The vote was unanimous, Brown finally giving up when the seven other commissioners made it clear they'd vote no if pushed to vote today.
The money was to help purchase a rundown 26-unit apartment building across Glenwood Avenue from Bishop's Park and renovate it for use by eight persons with disabilities and 18 other working folks whose incomes would be less than $21,000 a year or less than $31,000 a year, with nine units for each income level. Mixing "workforce housing" with housing for those with disabilities is a new direction for CASA, according to its executive, Deborah King. The highly regarded housing corporation has previously focused on building or acquired units for those with mental and physical disabilities.
Brooklyn-Glenwood residents, and Commissioner Betty Lou Ward, questioned whether CASA was overpaying for the property, which was on the market for more than two years. Total cost, including renovations, is estimated at $2.1 million.
Commissioner Tony Gurley also questioned using so much of the county's very limited housing budget to preserve low-income units rather than to create additional ones.
After brief discussion, Commissioners Chair Joe Bryan moved to table the issue and asked the City of Raleigh, which previously backed a grant of some $900,000 to CASA for the project, to reconsider it in light of the new information residents brought forward about the property's value and poor condition. Bryan made a big point of the fact that the Raleigh City Council never held a public hearing on the project, approving it after a single, unpublicized committee meeting.
CASA did hold three meetings with neighbors on its own, one after the committee meeting and prior to the Council vote, the other two since the vote.
CASA's option to purchase the property expires tomorrow. Bryan, after the vote, said he didn't know that, but added that options can be extended. The commissioners deserved a chance to consider what they heard today, he emphasized, and the Raleigh Council should also consider what the neighborhood says.
Brooklyn-Glenwood residents recently conducted a formal vote. It came 56-15 against the project, with another nine saying they'd support it with various changes. One change many want is an on-site property manager.