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Developer, Cary Officials At Odds Over Affordable Housing

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CARY, N.C. — Five years ago, the town of Cary developed a program with a developer to build more affordable housing, but the developer says there is no interest in cheaper homes.

Cary Park is a large development on the west side of Cary that is home to 700 families, and that number continues to grow. Most of the houses in the development cost about $500,000. It is also the first and only development in Cary required to offer 15 percent of the housing for less than $200,000.

"We call it workforce housing instead of affordable. It's for people who have regular jobs," said long-range planner Phil Smith. "Housing prices in Cary are among the highest in the Triangle area. In order to keep from having to import workers into Cary, we need affordable houses within the town limits."

The town put a mandate on Frank Bridger's Cary Park development in 2000, but Bridger said there is a problem.

"It appears we don't have that many affordable housing candidates, so to speak," he said.

Bridger said Cary Park is too far away from the town's center where many of the target homebuyers work.

Cary planners said the demand for affordable housing will likely go up in the town for two reasons. Panther Creek High School and a new fire station are opening less than a mile away and teachers and firefighters both qualify.

Right now, the mandate requires Bridger to build 300 affordable homes. He is asking the Cary Town Council to lower it to 200.

"It's been put on Cary Park for the last few years and I think to take some units and allocate them to other locations would be something to consider," Bridger said.

Cary planners will make a recommendation next month. Smith said he thinks a compromise can be reached with Cary Park. Plus, he adds that Cary is working on affordable housing in several other areas of town.

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