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Virginia Beach aims to entice developers
to build more affordable housing

By SUSAN E. WHITE, The Virginian-Pilot
November 11, 2006

VIRGINIA BEACH - Developers soon may have new incentives to build more affordable housing in the city.

On Monday, the city Planning Commission will hear a proposal for more mixed-use, higher-density housing in the city's strategic growth area, mainly along Virginia Beach Boulevard.

This could include a mixture of businesses and residences similar to the concept behind Town Center, said Andrew Friedman, the city's housing director.

"We're still working on the price ranges, but the idea is you can have high-

density development with mixed-income housing," Friedman said.

A committee on work-force housing will offer its plans for enticing this kind of construction, including density bonuses to builders.

The voluntary program would let developers build more units in exchange for designating some of those units as affordable or work-force housing.

Meanwhile, the city also must preserve the affordable housing that already exists, especially because fewer new homes are being built, Friedman said.

Friedman hopes the Planning Commission will formally consider the proposal in December.

To take effect, the plan must be approved by the City Council.

Even with the recent downturn in the housing market, some people - including city employees, firefighters, police officers and teachers - cannot afford to live in Virginia Beach,

said Tim McCarthy, a member of the work-force housing task force for Empower Hampton Roads. McCarthy is also a member of the Planning Commission's committee.

McCarthy said he is encouraged that Virginia Beach is addressing the housing issue, but he thinks construction should not be limited to the Virginia Beach Boulevard corridor.

He also is unsure developers will voluntarily buy into the idea.

"I'm concerned we're narrowing the lens too much," McCarthy said.

"This shouldn't be a program that only benefits the builders."