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Real Estate - Residential

Why This House Coming To Marsdon Avenue Is Unique

By Cece Nunn, posted Dec 14, 2018
The Cape Fear Community Land Trust crew raises a wall on the house the trust is building at 1314 Marsdon Ave. in Wilmington. (Photo courtesy of Cape Fear Community Land Trust)
The house under construction at 1314 Marsdon Ave. in Wilmington stands out from other dwellings rising in the Cape Fear region for more than one reason.

For one thing, it's a first for the Cape Fear Community Land Trust, an organization founded nearly 10 years ago as a means to address the need for affordable housing in the area.

While the trust has worked on housing projects before, the Marsdon Avenue home marks the first time the organization is building from the ground up, on a parcel the city provided several years ago.

"We wanted to make sure we were in a position that we could do it successfully. It took us this long to get to that point. I'm glad that we did; I'm glad we got our chops," said architect Clark Hipp, who was on the board of the CF Community Land Trust in the early days and still works with the organization. "We got our legs under us before we tried to do the heavy lifting."

Past projects have involved working with Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity and the city on houses that Habitat built and rehabilitating homes that are now affordable rentals, explained Paul Stavovy, executive director of the trust.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home at 1314 Marsdon Ave. is expected to be complete by the end of April, Stavovy said.

"This one will be for sale, but we will use the land trust model -- we'll keep the land and sell the house itself," he said, explaining that "if and when the house ever gets resold in the future, there's a formula for the resale price.  . . . We keep the land to make sure that that house stays affordable in perpetuity even if that whole neighborhood was bought and the house values went way up."

The 1,095-square-foot home is being marketed by Jody Wainio of Buyer's Choice Realty KW, a Realtor who has also been an advocate of affordable housing in the Wilmington area and helped buyers find homes that don't cost more than 30 percent of their incomes -- the generally accepted definition of "affordable."

The Marsdon Avenue house is only available to buyers whose household incomes do not exceed 80 percent of the area's median income. For examples, a two-person household's income would have to be no greater than $46,200, or $57,750 for a household of four. Down payment assistance is available.

Stavovy explained why city officials, Wainio, Hipp and many others in Wilmington are concerned about an issue that won't be going away any time soon.

The region, especially the city of Wilmington, has a real affordable housing crisis right now, like other parts of the U.S., said Stavovy, who is also chairman of the Cape Fear Housing Coalition. Hurricane Florence in September, which forced hundreds of people out of their apartments and homes because of mold and other damage, exacerbated the problem, he said.

"There's a ton of people that are housing cost-burdened and severely housing cost-burdened [paying over 50 percent of their income for housing and related costs]," Stavovy said. "The main reason we care it about it so much is housing is one of those payments that you have to make, and we find that people are not buying medicine or not buying enough food or not taking care of their health or vehicles or other things that are really important for jobs. If we can lower the price of housing, that would free up a lot more money for other life essentials."

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