The years-long effort to turn the four-acre site of the former Budget Inn into affordable housing is proceeding nicely, with demolition on the former hotel likely to begin this week. The end product will be 72 affordable housing units for working families.
While we appreciate Winston-Salem’s mini-building boom, with several high-end apartment complexes completed and others gearing up, affordable housing is necessary to retain the grounded character of the City of Arts and Innovation. Affordable housing projects aren’t the most profitable for developers, but there’s a great deal of benefit for low- and middle-income families and workers — as well as for the city as a whole — if they can find safe, clean, sturdy accommodations that don’t break the budget.
It’s also pleasing that the transformation coincides with $700,000 worth of scheduled improvements at West Salem Shopping Center, across the street from the former hotel. Along with sidewalk and parking lot improvements, efforts are underway to bring a co-op grocery store to the shopping center, which would benefit many surrounding neighborhoods. It’s a nice bit of synergy that might generate even more improvements along what is one of Winston-Salem’s least attractive commercial areas.
The housing development is a project of the Peters Creek Community Initiative, a church-affiliated nonprofit that wants to improve the residential and commercial environment in this part of town. PCCI bought the Budget Inn site from its previous owners in May for $1.2 million, using funds provided by the city and Forsyth County. Workers were removing asbestos from the hotel’s ceilings in preparation for demolition last week. The demolition is likely to continue into next year.
After the demolition is finished, the building can begin.
“Affordable” should not be confused with “cheap.” Artist’s renderings of the project show apartments that look as if they would fit in well with those near the ballpark.
Most of the apartments would be one- and two-bedroom units, and rents would be based on a sliding scale. “They would be rented based on average median income, with no one paying more than 35% of their income for the space,” Eileen Ayuso, the executive director of the Shalom Project, told the Journal. That affordability would be a big boost for struggling families, which can boost the economy in other ways if the bulk of their income isn’t going toward rent.
While PCCI has received or anticipates the money to complete the demolition, the group is still pursuing funding through grants from the federal government and other sources to complete the development, a project with a $10 million price tag. Its success seems certain, though. At this point, it’s just a matter of keeping the momentum going.
“We want people who work downtown to be able to live close to where they work,” Ayuso said. We agree. The people who keep the city running should be able to live within its borders — and they should be able to shop and find recreation without too much effort, also.
PCCI is not alone in being concerned about affordable housing. Local banks like BB&T (Truist) and Wells Fargo have also contributed to the effort in various ways, as have other nonprofit groups.
But we hope it all represents the beginning of a long-term trend, because more needs to be done to accommodate Winston-Salem’s growing work force.