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The Senate just passed a $1 trillion infrastructure package, then turned to a $3.5 trillion measure that could include more extensive investments in housing and changes to zoning policies.

The infrastructure bill includes $550 billion for bridges, roads, high-speed internet and other projects. The White House has billed the spending package as the largest-ever investment in public transit. Under the measure, Amtrak receives $66 billion, which is the most the rail service has received since its founding in 1971, according to the New York Times.

The Senate is now considering a $3.5 trillion plan that Democrats hope to approve through reconciliation, a process that would not require Republican support. The resolution allows for up to $332 billion for housing and other investments. That could help fund a $213 billion Biden plan to build or preserve more than 2 million affordable housing units. Other housing proposals in Biden’s infrastructure plan, including an expansion of Section 8 housing vouchers and incentives for cities and states to eliminate exclusionary zoning, could also make it into the larger plan.

The Associated General Contractors of America, whose members would benefit from the approved plan, urged the House to pass it as quickly as possible. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that the chamber will not vote on the initial bill until the Senate passes the more extensive measure.

“Unfortunately, some members of the House want to delay action on the bipartisan measure until passing an unrelated, partisan, spending bill,” said Stephen Sandherr, the group’s CEO. “The last thing Washington should do is hold a much-needed, bipartisan infrastructure bill hostage to partisan politics.”

The New York Housing Conference is hopeful that the budget legislation will ultimately include changes to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. The group is advocating for a change to the program’s so-called “50 percent test,” which requires 50 percent or more of a development to be financed through private activity bonds in order to be eligible for such tax credits.

Because the federal government caps the number of such bonds New York can issue, the test limits affordable housing construction. Reducing the threshold to 25 percent would add 10,000 affordable housing units each year in the state, the group estimates.

“We have a housing crisis in this country. We certainly have a housing crisis in New York,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference. “Getting around the state caps has to be a priority for New York.”

 

Source: The Real Deal

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Minto Communities has unveiled plans for the 50-acre business park portion of the city of Westlake, which it is developing in western Palm Beach County.

The city was approved for 2.2 million square feet of commercial space, in addition to 4,500 homes. The home development is well underway, and hundreds of people are living there.

Minto Communities, the master developer, recently received city approval for the first phase of the commercial project. Deerfield Beach-based Konover South has agreed to buy 7 acres from Minto in order to build restaurant/retail buildings of 7,000 and 9,450 square feet. Called the Shoppes of Westlake Landings, it would be near the 7-Eleven service station that’s currently under construction.

Minto said another local developer has a 5.75-acre parcel in Westlake under contract in order to build a 107,290-square-foot self-storage facility. In addition, a 14.5-acre site is planned for an entertainment/sports concept and a 17.5-acre property is slated for a flex office/warehouse project. Minto said it’s discussing the latter two projects with several interested developers.

Publix also has plans for a 50,000-square-foot store in Westlake.

 

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Slashing taxes and taking a hands-off approach to governance attracted thousands of residents to places like in Lake Wylie, South Carolina. But politicians neglected to spend money on critical infrastructure, and now the Republican-led county council has placed a 16-month moratorium on all new development.

The York County Council said that the town, where the population has tripled since 2000, needs to get a better handle on growth, the Wall Street Journal reported. Several years of outsized development has strained Lake Wylie’s water system, schools, and roads.

The moratorium affects commercial and residential rezoning requests as well as considerations of new apartment complexes and subdivisions.

“New development in the town isn’t of the kind the town needs,” said Council member Allison Love. “For example, there are seven car washes and six self-storage facilities on the town’s main drag but few restaurants and doctors’ offices. Many residential subdivisions look almost identical.”

Love and her colleagues said they gathered thousands of signatures supporting the moratorium from residents of the town who are tired of overly long commutes caused by clogged roadways and water main breaks. Three mile drives across town can take up to 45 minutes in some cases and residents have seen a dozen boil-water advisories in the last two years.

Other towns in the Sunbelt region have struggled with similar issues related to development. Development firms like the Related Group have expanded into small towns across the region in search of returns.

The moratorium may be too late to relieve near-term pressure on Lake Wylie, though — there are currently around 3,000 new homes and apartments approved and in various stages of construction in the town.

 

Source: The Real Deal

A Royal Palm Beach project could get more than 1,000 new homes, schools, a theater and more.

Brian Tuttle, head of Tuttle Land Development, said it has taken him about five years to assemble 200 acres in what he called one of the busiest intersections in Palm Beach County. He estimated his project, called “Tuttle Royale,” would have a market value of $650 million.

The plan, at Southern Boulevard and State Road 441, calls for 1,000 rental apartments, 100 single-family homes, a K-12 Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) charter school for 1,500 students, a 200-student preschool, grocer, pharmacy with a drive-through, convenience store with an eight-pump gas station, a 150-room hotel and a 10-acre regional park.

There’s also 350,000 square feet of space for restaurants and entertainment offerings, including a 915-seat movie theater and a health club, according to city documents. The development would also include a street named Erica Boulevard, in honor of Tuttle’s daughter, who died unexpectedly at age 24 in 2016, he said.

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council tentatively signed off on the land use changes this month. There are hearings scheduled in September and October, according to the village clerk. More specifics will come once site plans are approved. Mayor Fred Pinto estimated it would take 10 years to build.

The land, sandwiched between Wellington and West Palm Beach, was mostly empty except for a dog rescue facility, which has since moved, as well as a handful of single-family homes, most of which have since sold, the mayor said. The land was annexed into Royal Palm Beach within the last few years.

Pinto said he hoped village residents could take advantage “of the entertainment venues” instead of having to drive to West Palm Beach.

As for the potential for increased traffic, Pinto said, “Anything you do there’s always going to be traffic.” But he added, “we’re not creating more traffic internally in the village. The traffic is confined to the people who live in the development or visitors for the entertainment.”

 

Source: SunSentinel