As park renovations and residential rezonings slowly price out residents near Dorothea Dix Park, Raleigh’s city council members are making an effort to preserve some of the city’s most valuable real estate for affordable housing. 

The city council voted unanimously last week to move forward with the rezoning of three city-owned properties near the corner of Fayetteville and South Wilminton streets. 

The roughly 11 acres of land, which currently allows only single-family homes, would be rezoned to allow four- and five-story apartment buildings or other “residential mixed-use” buildings. The properties are:  

  • 1500 Fayetteville St., 9.25 acres, 340 potential units
  • 15 Summit Ave., 0.67 acres, 30 potential units
  • Waterworks Street property, 1.2 acres, 10 potential units

The city plans to keep rents affordable by either constructing the buildings with the help of a low-income tax credit or leasing the land to an affordable housing developer, according to senior city planner Matthew Klem. 

The city can also fund the project with money from the 2020 Affordable Housing Bond since the properties are near public transportation (a planned bus rapid transit station). 

The proposal was a result of the Dorothea Dix Edge Study, an effort by city staff to discover the impacts of the planned Dix Park redevelopment on nearby residents. 

“The community feedback has been loud and clear on the need for affordable housing,” Klem said during the city council meeting.

The demand for affordable housing has long been prevalent citywide but has recently become particularly apparent near Dix Park. Development around the park spiked in the past year, with more than 145 acres around South Saunders Street slated for 10-, 12-, and 20-story mixed-use developments—likely apartment complexes with sky-high rents. 

Last year, another developer bought 7.5 acres of land along Hammell Drive with plans to turn the property into a high-end apartment complex, pushing out existing residents and business owners

The once run-down area in Southwest Raleigh is expected to become a sparkling new “gateway” into downtown, with the refurbished Dix Park becoming the area’s crown jewel. The city council’s action last week shows they’re not looking too far ahead, however. Not only are they anticipating problems residents may face as a result of the rapid growth, but they’re enacting a plan to solve them. 

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