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Statewide Program Could Boost Downtown Renovations

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Developing downtowns across the state just got easier. More and more cities, like Raleigh and Wilson, have adopted the North Carolina Rehabilitation Code.

The NCRC gives builders a different set of standards in exchange for renovating old buildings. Now, Fayetteville wants to do the same.

Susan Franzblau has owned a building on Fayetteville's Hay Street for five years. It cost her $80,000 to transform the former bookstore into a yoga studio.

"I wouldn't be able to own this building if I had to make the renovations according to what's going on downtown now," she said.

Fayetteville City Councilmember Jimmy Keefe said the high price of renovating old buildings in downtown Fayetteville scares builders away. That is why he is pushing for the new, statewide pilot program.

NCRC allows developers to choose a new set of codes for older buildings that require modern safety standards during renovation.

For example, some older buildings would not be required to have fire sprinklers or other fire rating requirements.

"A renovation that was originally quoted as being as $70,000 is able to be done for $25,000 to $30,000. So we're talking about a 60 percent savings and it gets buildings back into service," Keefe said.

Twelve N.C. cities in the state have already adopted the NCRC, including Raleigh, Wilson, Rocky Mount and Greensboro.

Despite the change in requirements, Keefe said the codes still put safety first. He said the main goal is getting more people to invest in downtown areas.

The program runs through August 2006.


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