RALEIGH – Developers and supporters of the massive $2 billion Downtown South project are further embracing the idea of a grant program to provide needed funding and have added more allies in the Black community in their quest to secure rezoning approval from the city for the sports, businesses and entertainment complex.
A press conference is set for 3 p.m. Monday to discuss the groups efforts after losing out in a Planning Commission meeting last week.
“We appreciate the Planning Commission for their extensive review of the Downtown South rezoning case. We agree with the Planning Commission’s view that this project can do so much more, and believe the way to accomplish that is through a Tax Increment Grant,” Bonner Gaylord, who is part of the Kane Realty team, told WRAL TechWire after the commission meeting.
“We remain committed to advancing a project that is respectful of and responsive to community concern,” added Gaylord, a former City Council member.
The impact of the massive project on local neighborhoods has been a sore spot since developr John Kane and partners including NC Football Club owner Steve Malik first announced the project last year.
At the press conference, the developers said they “will address the vision and opportunity of the project alongside partners, some of which are new.”
Kane has said the project backers realize they need to further involve minority businesses and leaders.
“As we’ve heard in our community engagement, local minority business participation is crucial to creating an equitable and just district and we’re excited to take one more step toward implementing that goal,” Kane, the developer behind North Hills and other Raleigh projects, said recently.
Funding from a Tax Increment Grant as part of a public-private partnership would be used for affordable housing, stormwater infrastructure, worker training and the sports/entertainment stadium.
“We started this whole thing with an entertainment and sports venue creating an entertainment district,” Gaylord said in a recent meeting, according to The News and Observer. “Without that entertainment and sports venue, everything else withers away. So the (grant) is necessary to do the project we envision and it’s necessary for the community to receive the community benefits (they) are asking for. So it’s in our best interest and it’s really necessary for us to have that (grant) to fulfill the vision of the project.”
A group of Black developers known as Raleigh Raised Development joined the Downtown South effort just ahead of the Planning Commission meeting. The firm is led by LeVelle Moton, men’s basketball coach at North Carolina Central University who grew up in Raleigh.
The Downtown South group has also added two other minority-owned firms for its campaign: BLWall Consulting and F7 International Development.
Scheduled to speak at the press conference are Gaylord, Steve Malik of the North Carolina Football Club, NC Courage soccer player Jessica McDonald, Bridgett Wall-Lennon of BLWall Consulting and James Montague of F7 International Development.
BLWall focuses on public policy, business and economic development. Wall has more than 25 years of experience in minority business development.
Montague, president of F7 International Development, is a community developer.
What’s a Tax Increment Grant?
The City of Charlotte offers a model in the use of Tax Increment Grants, which are based on public-private partnerships.
“TIGs are provided on a reimbursement basis only, and the project must demonstrate its benefit to the general public,” the City explains.
“Examples of reimbursable improvements through a TIG include, but are not limited to, new public infrastructure such as roads, streetscapes, and parking decks. A TIG may also be employed to assist in gap funding for developments shown to achieve the City’s goals and objectives (e.g. affordable and workforce housing, job creation, etc.) but would not be financially feasible without assistance from the City.”
Charlotte says such partnerships “are an important component of Charlotte’s overall growth and success. Charlotte has a rich history of implementing successful public private partnerships, allowing the City to not only influence key elements of a development project, but also enhance the benefits and amenities built to be enjoyed by the greater community.
Downtown South developers originally sought funding from tourism taxes paid to Raleigh and Wake County. They later shifted sights to the grant as a possible source for capital.