Local News

Soaring Real Estate Prices Pushing Some Out Of Downtown Raleigh

Posted January 24, 2006

— Buying a piece of America is out of reach for some, and hard to hold on to for others. In downtown Raleigh, some condos are going for $400,000 -- a sign of soaring real estate prices. Some say the shift is pushing lower-income families out.

Many residents in downtown Raleigh are concerned about new, higher-priced homes going up right beside them. While it is a way for their property to become more valuable, the owners often worry about being forced to leave or staying and being faced with a property tax bill they can no longer afford.

James Williams has lived on East Cabarrus Street more than two decades. For the first time, the retired teacher worries about his future in downtown Raleigh because of revitalization.

"It's a good thing and there are drawbacks," Williams said.

New, high-priced condominiums are going up two blocks from Williams' house in one direction. The other way, more development. The drawback in his mind involves gentrification -- lower-income families being forced out because a higher-income class moves in.

"My major concern is the city will come in and take this property or some major developer will put enough pressure in to take the property without giving us a fair market rate," Williams said.

It is a widespread concern for many longtime residents just east and south of downtown.

"There are areas where we see revitalization and gentrification occurring," said Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver.

As the city develops a new East Vision plan, Silver wants homeowners to feel more comfortable with the process. He will hold a gentrification workshop and help them predict the future of their neighborhoods.

"I think the neighbors and residents want to see the area improve. Their concern is the uncertainty of the tradeoffs and impacts they'll have to deal with," Silver said.

In some parts of the country, cities have worked to make sure people are not priced out through taxes or promise residents zero displacement. The city is looking at many options here. In the meantime, Williams plans to stay involved so he can stay comfortable in his treasured home.

"I don't want to leave," he said.

A gentrification workshop sponsored by the city of Raleigh will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Exploris Museum.

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