City Council considers Southeast Plaza funding, Business 40 path

City Council considers Southeast Plaza funding, Business 40 path
March 31
00:00 2016

Also explores possibility of a new Waughtown Street library



During the the Monday, March 28 City Council meeting, many matters were discussed.

The City Council voted unanimously to make a change to the funding for forgivable loans received by Southeast Plaza for renovations. Part of the loans used for the project more than six years ago were federal Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) funds, which the city discovered would require paying prevailing wages retroactively to all laborers on the project. This would be difficult to do since several contractors on the project are no longer in business. The UDAG funds have now been substituted with Revitalizing Urban Commercial Area (RUCA) funds and Economic Development Project funds.

Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke said she was impressed by what she’d seen at the plaza, which is on Waughtown Street and home to stores like Compare Foods.

“The developer should be complimented because most of the spaces were occupied,” she said.

In October 2010, Southeast Plaza was among five project areas the City Council approved RUCA funding to rehabilitate. The plaza received a $200,000 low-interest RUCA loan, two forgivable RUCA loans totaling$1,209,000 and a UDAG loan for $250,000.

Private investment in the project totaled $7.2 million, when Southeast Plaza Investor, LLC (SEPI) asked for additional funds from the city.  Plaza owner Jose Isasi’s request for funds to do additional rehabilitation was controversial, as he promised that SEPI would invest another $900,000. The city council in a split vote approved $825,500 for the Plaza in February 2015, which converted the remaining balance of the RUCA and UDAG loans to $405,000 in forgivable loans. The rest of the money came from other sources like license fees for sweepstakes businesses. Robert Clark, Molly Leight and Jeff MacIntosh voted against it, questioning if it was a good use of RUCA funds.

The loans are forgivable in five years if the property is kept in good condition and complies with the terms in the loan agreement, which included donating approximately six acres of land behind the plaza to the City.

City Council Member Derwin Montgomery said in a town hall last year he felt it was a good investment, since he considered it one of the most successful RUCA projects based on the transformation of the property and the amount of private capital invested.

Also during the meeting, City Council voted unanimously to reject all bids for the Winston Lake Park development project because the lowest bidder failed to meet the goal for minority and women business enterprise subcontracting, which was 10%for minority-owned businesses and 10% for women-owned businesses, and was found by two committees to not have made the necessary good faith efforts to reach those goals. Montgomery assured his constituents the City will continue to look for a contractor, and the project will move forward.

The council delayed a vote on a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path adjacent to Business 40 that would link places like Baptist Medical Center, BB&T Ballpark, downtown and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, along with nearby neighbors and commercial areas. The $10 million path would be paid for with $5 million in city funds and a $5 million federal grant. The trail would go through four wards, but City Council members Robert Clark and D.D. Adams brought up questions of equity among the wards that weren’t receiving funds for the project.

The council also approved due diligence work to explore the possibility of building a new County library next to the police district station that is being built on Waughtown Street.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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