HENDERSON — City leaders figure on taking a couple steps by the end of the month that could bring them closer to setting up an “urban redevelopment area” in the Elmwood section of Henderson to give them more tools to promote investment there.
Henderson’s Planning Board is scheduled on Monday to consider whether the officials have pegged the right set of boundaries for the district, which so far take in an area northwest of South Chestnut Street, southwest of West Andrews Avenue and northeast of Burwell Avenue, stretching to and including the Elmwood Cemetery.
State law says the determination turns on whether members think there’s a sufficient number of buildings in the area suffering “dilapidation, deterioration, age or obsolescence” to make it blighted and a drag on “the sound growth of the community.”
On July 22, officials have also scheduled “a community listening session” from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Farm Bureau Room of the Perry Memorial Library to hear from residents and property owners about what they think should go into a redevelopment plan for the area.
They’re also running an online survey that has the same objective.
Available at https://bit.ly/2UbMoYD, it asks participants to weigh in on what neighborhood issues are important to them, and on the importance they’d assign to improving the Elmwood area’s housing stock, promoting affordable home ownership there, improving its amenities and connections to downtown, and improving “public safety by removing or repurposing abandoned properties, increasing street lighting” and making “other changes to the built environment.”
Work on the initiative is being supervised by a seven-member Redevelopment Commission that includes Henderson residents Ruxton Bobbitt, Jim Gunderson, Lilipiana Darensburg, Freddie Harris, Lamont Noel, Michael Venable and Beatrice Walker.
The group has met twice and it’s immediate responsibility is to come up with a redevelopment plan for the area, which would then face an advisory review by the Planning Board and an approval vote by the City Council.
Approval would give the Redevelopment Commission access to a set of powers that includes the ability to acquire property, clear buildings, arrange the construction of new ones, compel the repair of existing buildings and set up financing for all of that.
Officials have enlisted help for the effort from a group of consultants from UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Government, who in the spring told the City Council that they think one in three of the 481 properties in the Elmwood area are in need of repair.
Overall, officials believe that there’s a portion of the Elmwood area that “meets the definition of being blightered,” and a “much larger surrounding area that meets the definition of becoming or in danger of becoming blighted in near future,” Assistant City Manager Paylor Spruill said.
The only change pending to the district line stems from advice from the Redevelopment Commission that “both sides of Burwell Avenue should be included,” rather than just the northeast side, Spruill said.
Homes make up the majority of the actual floor space of buildings in the district, but the consultants think about 75% of the units in it are renter-occupied.
The city and Vance County own a significant number of parcels in the area, including for example the cemetery and the land occupied by the Vance County Jail.
Churches like the Church of the Holy Innocents on Chestnut Street and the Union Grove Church of Christ on Parham Street are also key landowners in the district.
City leaders are also in the early stages of considering a similar initiative for the Flint Hill section of Henderson, southeast of downtown.
Contact Ray Gronberg at email@example.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.