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Plan advances to convert old hospital to affordable lofts

haywoodHaywood County commissioners will hold a public hearing next Monday on whether to give away the “old hospital” to a developer who will turn it into an affordable apartment complex.

Haywood County has wanted rid of the albatross for years, but hadn’t been able to find a taker for the antiquated, four-story brick building with a cobbled floor plan and outdated everything. The county is essentially giving the building away, but will get rid of the liability and see the vacant building put back into productive use.

The county would have been able to get something for the old hospital if it hadn’t been for Republican-led legislation in Raleigh to scale back historic preservation and low-income housing tax credits.

The county stood to get more than $1 million for the old hospital under an earlier proposal to sell it off to an affordable housing developer. But the state curtailed the tax incentives, adding more than $1 million to the developer’s cost, and thus cutting in to what the county could get for the building.

“That’s why the county isn’t able to achieve a better return on this property is because the legislature has done away with those credits,” said David Francis, special projects coordinator for Haywood County.

Here’s how the property transfer to Landmark Development Company will work. The firm will pay the county $200,000 up front. The county will then make a loan to the firm for $450,000, to be repaid in 30 years, which is the development firm’s financing period.

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So the county will be out $250,000 initially, but will realize a net gain of $200,000 when the loan is paid back in 30 years.

It’s still a good deal for the county, however, which has been sinking money into the building every year to keep it from falling into a state of disrepair, from replacing the leaky roof to keeping the power on and air circulating. 

The affordable apartment complex will be named Brookmont Lofts, drawing on a historic reference to the neighborhood found in old deeds, Francis said.

The town of Waynesville has pledged to waive any permit fees for the developer and provide in-kind services when it comes to street work and utility tie ins.

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