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Mooresville makes strides in affordable housing communities 

by Jessica Wells, NCLM Communications Specialist

The Town of Mooresville has been instrumental in the development of two new affordable housing developments.

The Burke Crossing subdivision was started with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant in 2009, but the recession’s tightened lending practices made it difficult for the developer to sell lots to qualifying families. To meet the growing demand for affordable housing, the town found a creative way to finish the project.

"Any time a project is sitting fallow, it’s not a healthy dynamic for the town. It was a priority to reinvigorate the project," Tim Brown, Mooresville senior planner said. "It’s a priority to fulfill the mission to provide decent, affordable housing."

For the Burke Crossing development, the town is working with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity to build the remaining homes and deliver qualified beneficiaries. This is the first project Our Towns Habitat for Humanity has worked on in partnership with the town, but the partnership has already completed four homes with 14 total residents.

"You’re really seeing a tremendous community spirit coming out of Mooresville just on that first venture that we’ve done together," Our Towns’ Executive Director Paul Robinson said. "People say when they come and volunteer with our teams for a while they get infected with ‘habititus.’ You can do all kinds of team building, but the thing that’s really special about when you volunteer with us is that you’re building a home with the homeowner and others from the community."

Mooresville could be sponsoring another home in conjunction with Lowe’s, and two additional homes are pending approval by another sponsorship.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity plans to include solar panels on each of the homes to minimize electric bills for the new homeowners. The organization also plans for Burke Crossings to be the first LEED Certified Community in the state. For its environmental efforts, the Town of Mooresville and Our Towns Habitat for Humanity received the North Carolina Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council’s 2014 Sustainable Business Award in the Talking Walls Neighborhood Development category for Burke Crossing.

"When we build a home, we want to make sure the home is energy efficient, so when the costs go up, they won’t be burdened," Robinson said. "We want to make sure it won’t take too much of [a family’s] discretionary income so they can afford to put their kids in school, and if they need to learn to play the violin, they can cover that."

Pending funding approval, the rest of the community will be completed within two years.

The second board-approved community is a 66-home development for low- to moderate-income senior citizens in the Cascade Mill Village near the Burke Crossing community. The project is pending approval of tax credit housing funds, but if approved, the town will donate six to eight acres of land to non-profit developers 

Prosperity Unlimited and Wesley Development Corporation to develop the homes.

According to Roy Helm, executive director of Wesley Development Corporation, a market study from 2013 indicated more than 700 potential renters in the Mooresville area need affordable senior housing.

"We’ve never seen a market study that has shown so much demand," Helm said. "There’s a high growth rate in Mooresville as one of the booming suburbs of Charlotte, and population has just exploded there in the last five years."

This is Wesley’s first project in partnership with Mooresville and will be the corporation’s largest development. Helm said the town is very involved in the design of the project and wants design aspects to meet the needs of the neighborhood. When complete, the complex will look like duplexes in a mill village by using design elements like dormers, front porches and brick foundations.

The developers will also incorporate an existing community garden maintained by the Rotary club into the neighborhood.

While the tax credit application process is competitive, Brown believes they are taking the right steps and are qualified for the funds. He said he thinks the community’s location in the redevelopment district, proximity to pharmacies and groceries, and the partnership of local government and nonprofits to complete the homes will make the project attractive in the application process.

"We think that moving in this direction really works to diversify the housing in this community," Brown said. "Adding senior housing to a community provides a solid, stabilizing element."