The Telegram Public Forum Page – Headline – Location of Public Housing ILL Conceived

After I wrote the blog about PLAN B, letting Woda Cooper Companies repurpose one of our old buildings for low-income housing, I wrote a letter to the Telegram. They published it on Tuesday. Nobody told me that the paper has been on a diet. Something else we better talk about here on Main Street. It’s on the list, but we have other fish to fry now. Please leave a comment at the bottom of the blog if you like the idea of PLAN B as a viable alternative to Section 8 housing in the wrong place. This isn’t a very sexy post, sorry, but the proposal as it stands now has LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES that are costly. Add your voice and influence to stopping this costly mistake. Skip to paragraph 3 of the letter if you’ve read the blog.

The City Council has approved Woda Cooper Companies (WCC) as “development partners” for construction of “workforce housing” on Tarboro Street, across from Edgecombe Community College. WCC has experienced developers, general contractors, and property managers specializing in design, construction, and management. They have accomplished an impressive body of work. While their online presence leaves a highly favorable impression, it is the insistence on the location for this housing that is questionable, short-sighted and leaves us shaking our heads, again. Woda Cooper can accomplish Plan B for Rocky Mount, which is the right answer for this housing the Council has decided comes before other issues like infrastructure.

WCC repurposes old buildings for low-income housing. Visit their website to read about success stories in other cities. For example, in order to create affordable places to live in downtown Cleveland, Woda Cooper bought the Stuyvesant Motor Company Building at 1937 Prospect Avenue and built the Prospect Yard apartments. The building was built in 1917 and a stone in the brick at the top of the building still reads “Stuyvesant” after more than a century. The building has 42 apartments, with rent starting at $330 and topping out at $1,247 depending on how large the apartment is.

Members of the City Council and the City Manager decided that this housing must be located downtown, disregarding the current research that says the edges of a Main Street Downtown District need protection from exactly this kind of haphazard planning. This location is in direct conflict with the new emerging Main Street, ECC, and the economic drivers that support downtown businesses. Someone is looking to make money off this project but it will not be the businesses that are a priority in our safekeeping. Rather than plunk this housing cluster in the wrong location, let these ‘development partners’ help us find an appropriate commercial building and repurpose it for workforce housing. However, repurposing a building must keep the integrity of our historic facades intact, adding seamlessly to the historic downtown. This power struggle is not over the need for this housing or welcoming its residence into the life of the new scene downtown, but it is all about location, location, location. I alone, having a temper tantrum in the middle of Main Street, isn’t enough. We need your voice and sphere of influence behind Plan B.

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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10 Responses to The Telegram Public Forum Page – Headline – Location of Public Housing ILL Conceived

  1. Frances constans says:

    I agree with plan c also.makes to refurbish existing housing and think of the beauty of the construction of the housing.

    Like

    • I like PLAN C best now too. I got all excited because the company involved has on their website the projects I mention in this post. But M. Taylor’s ideas are even better than what I wrote about. Plan C has come from an articulate, well reasoned, smart gal. She is exactly what we need to add her creative ideas to the mix. I’m glad you agree. Thanks for keeping me company on Main Street and leaving a comment.

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  2. Dave Uery says:

    All concerned stakeholders should work together and creat a plan tha encourages small businesses to prosper along with affordable housing. I like your comment “ This location is in direct conflict with the new emerging Main Street, ECC, and the economic drivers that support downtown businesses..”

    Everyone should work together for the best long term solution. Wouldn’t they all want to be remembered as creating a brighter future rather than a missed opportunity.

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  3. Margie. Pate says:

    I agree with Monique. We have so many beautiful buildings that could be turned into smaller low income housing. I agree that Rocky Mount needs more nice income adjusted housing but feel like Monique that there are other better ways to accomplish this than one large newly built unit. I do not believe the area they plan to build on also is healthy as it held a dry cleaning plant for many years on that site. It should be full of chemicals in the soil that children would be playing in.
    Let’s open the door for better ideas….
    Margie Pate

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  4. Rodd says:

    Plan B is the only choice!

    I also like Ms. Taylor’s comments–and agree. So a modified plan B is great.

    How about using some of the warehouses or factories for loft housing, some of the smaller buildings for fewer apartments and rehab some of the depilated housing?

    RM doesn’t need more large and ugly apartment complexes that become drug havens and crime infested areas.

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    • I love it when you add your two cents to the discussion. Coming with a Masters Degree in Urban planning, well-read, bright as a copper penny, it always gives us more to consider. Knowing it is without an agenda, you are a consultant that doesn’t cost a dime, and has the best interests of the community at heart. I can’t thank you enough for caring about Main Street and its author.

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  5. Monnique Taylor says:

    My random thoughts on the housing situation…While I agree that Plan B is a more viable option, I disagree with having one large entity that houses all the units in one location downtown. I think small pockets of affordable housing sprinkled throughout the downtown area is a better alternative. It will also prevent the congregation of extremely large groups in one residential location, reduce crime, allow for easier upkeep and better monitoring. It will also allow for the ability to incorporate mixed residents without necessarily having them in the same building. For instance, senior or assisted living housing, student housing, a larger building for mixed ages of affordable housing residents, a separate group consisting of just “adult housing” (professional, single or young couples). All of these smaller groups of housing can be downtown and makes for a wonderful mix. Eliminate “big building housing” like an apartment complex housing a couple of hundred residents. Utilize smaller buildings and house 50-60 residents in each building. Smaller communities gives more of a “my brother’s keeper” feel, keeping the “care and concern” for neighbors a priority, while pouring money and resources into a growing and hopefully thriving downtown.

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    • Monnique: I really love your PLAN C. For all the reasons you state. Of course, my first choice has always been and will be our neighborhoods where we already have housing. To save these houses and neighborhoods, AND welcome mixed ages with affordable housing. PLEASE take your thoughts and get them out there. What Ward are you? Stay a part of this plan because I am sure you are on the right track here. THANK YOU!!!!!!

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