Current Topic 1

Updates on Cloverdale Apartments and Ardmore Terrace

UPDATE 2/22/16:

Friends and neighbors,

This message is going out to everyone who has previously asked me to be placed on the list for updates on the situation regarding Cloverdale Apartments and Ardmore Terrace.  As you know, since the large public meeting we held last year, I have been able to provide only general updates that discussions with representatives of the apartments’ owners have been continuing.

I’m pleased to be able to write now to provide a more detailed update on those discussions.  My discussions since last fall have been directly with member representatives of the owners group themselves.  They are the heirs of the Wilson and Covington families who originally built these historic apartment complexes, and who are committed to continuing involvement in the apartments and any successor developments.  While we have come from different perspectives about some of the critical concerns involved, it has proven possible to look for meaningful compromises that will take into account the owners’ direct interests, the needs of residents, and issues of concern to the larger community.

As you may remember from our public meeting last August, I have also formed and met with a committee of advisors composed of representatives from apartment residents, other neighborhood representatives, and concerned community members with additional expertise in development and housing issues.  These advisors have been extremely helpful in pointing out concerns and suggesting options for discussion, and in reviewing possible compromises.

As a recap, here are the major factors complicating the current situation:

--These apartment communities now provide affordable, ideally-located housing for hundreds of households, in an area where affordable workforce housing is increasingly in high demand.

--They are also a well-established part of the larger Ardmore neighborhood, with historic (over 50 years old) buildings and a mature tree canopy that blends well with and complements the adjacent single-family housing.

--On the other hand, the buildings are also showing their age, with major systems in need of updating in many of the buildings, and other major maintenance needs adding up.  The owners have concluded that the overall cost of these renovations cannot be practically financed out of the revenue from renting just these apartments in their current format.

--The owners believe that mixed use redevelopment (combination of residential and commercial) would be the economically ideal usage of their property, but that cannot be done without rezoning.

--However, the owners have the legal option under existing zoning to replace all the existing buildings with new apartment buildings at an increased density and taller height.  The commercial success of other such nearby projects has indicated to them that this would be a financially attractive alternative to leaving the buildings as they are.

--Finally, however, simply replacing the existing buildings under current zoning would not provide any protections for current residents, or affordable workforce housing, or mature tree conservation, nor would the new construction necessarily be compatible with the adjacent neighborhood.

All told, this has produced a challenging situation for negotiations.  That is a large part of why the discussions to reach this point have taken so long.

As I reported to many of you last month, these discussions have now made real progress toward a possible compromise approach to the future of these long-established apartment home communities.  While there are many details that will have to be worked out, in broad brush here are the major elements of the proposal under development:

·         The owners would seek rezoning of the Ardmore Terrace area to the north of Cloverdale Avenue as mixed use, with a planned mix of office, retail, and residential units.  This area is currently bordered by non-residential uses to the east and west.  The owners are prepared to relocate residents who wish to remain in this apartment community to units that become available in the buildings on the south side of Cloverdale Avenue.  This development could begin after the conclusion of the rezoning process. (The rezoning process has not begun, and would take months to complete.  I’d project that it could not conclude before late this year.  The owners are still committed to honoring existing leases.)

·         The owners would also concurrently seek to rezone a strip of approximately 200’ in depth adjacent to Cloverdale on its south side, to a use category that includes retail as an option.  However, redevelopment of that area would not begin for at least five years, and during that time existing apartments in that zone would continue to be available for lease.  (I have suggested the use of what is known as “two phase” development for that area, which allows the site details to be determined through a later set of reviews and hearings.)

·         The balance of the land in Cloverdale Apartments on the south side of Cloverdale, over to Queen Street, would remain in multifamily residential zoning. 

·         In addition, there would be several additional owner commitments for the area to the south of Cloverdale Avenue.  It would not be redeveloped for at least five years.  During that time, the existing buildings would continue to be leased as residential apartments, so long as the insurance can be maintained and the units economically maintained.  After year five, when and if the buildings in this area are replaced, the new buildings would be designed and built so that 10% of the units would be leased as affordable workforce housing targeted to residents below 80% of the median income of Forsyth County, for an additional ten years.

·         For the area maintained as residential housing on the south side of Cloverdale Avenue, when the buildings are replaced, the owners would seek building materials and designs to mirror current architecture as much as possible.  Building heights along Queen Street would be targeted for the existing two-story height.

·         The owners would seek closure of the public street rights-of-way within the apartment complexes simultaneously with the rezoning requests.  (These are Ardmore Terrace and its adjoining courts on the north side of Cloverdale Avenue, and New Drive on the south side.)  However, the street and drives on the south side would not be actually closed or redesigned for at least five years.

·         Tree preservation efforts would be made for as many of the healthy mature trees within the complexes as possible, with replacement plantings for those which cannot be saved.  (I have suggested an individual health survey of these mature canopy trees, although that remains a detail under discussion.)

In addition, I will be working with the owners, residents, and community helping organizations to advise and assist residents who decide to move out of the apartments and need assistance during the transition periods.

Again, this is a rough outline of the compromises under negotiation, and many important details remain to be worked out.  I will continue to involve representatives of residents, the larger neighborhood, and concerned community organizations as the discussions continue.  I also anticipate setting up another larger community meeting for review and discussion of the compromise proposals and processes, sometime later this spring.

All of the proposed elements outlined above are subject to review and discussion during the public meetings.  The zoning/planning elements are subject to the formal public process which includes public hearings and votes by the Planning Board and the City Council.  In other words, this is an interim report, not a final one, and you will have the opportunity and invitation for further involvement in the process.

Thank you for your concern and your patience.  I will do my best to keep you informed as we move forward.