Construction of Oakland Pointe expected to start spring 2020

Staff writer

Oakland Pointe, a proposed new apartment complex that’s poised to become one of Norge’s newest additions, is expected to start construction next spring, and its first residents are anticipated to move in the following year.

The Board of Supervisors set the stage for construction of the 119-unit apartment complex when it recently approved a rezoning application tied to the project.

For a project that languished on county meeting agendas for more than a year due to delays and revisions, it looks like things could move at a steadier clip going forward.

Construction is scheduled to start in spring 2020 and will likely take about 12 months. The first residents of the complex are anticipated to move in spring 2021, said Tim Trant, an attorney for Connelly Development LLC, the rezoning applicant and developer, in an email.

Trant said traffic improvements associated with the project are scheduled to be completed prior to the start of the construction. He didn’t provide a specific timetable for that stage of the project.

Connelly Development proposed improvements to the Oakland Drive and Richmond Road intersection, which is near the apartments’ proposed location, as well as improvements down at Richmond Road’s intersection with Croaker Road.

Though the controversial project had supporters in the community, it had to clear a sizable hurdle in rising above the criticism leveled against it by the project’s opponents.

Now it has another hurdle to clear — acquisition of the tax credits provided by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, which are needed to make the affordable housing project financially viable.

The credits, which are allocated by the Virginia Housing Development Authority, encourage developers to build projects geared toward low-income residents. Every year, each state gets a per capita allocation of tax credits. States can also request a piece of the national pool of unused credits, according to a handout taken from a 2013 “Virginia Town and City,” a magazine published by the Virginia Municipal League that was provided as part of the rezoning application’s materials.

The VHDA studies proposed projects and decides which ones best fit its allocation plan, which is a competitive, points-based process. Points are given for a variety of criteria, such as location, green structure certifications, sponsor’s experience and number of units in a project, among other considerations.

“We feel strongly that the project will score high enough in the rankings to be awarded tax credits,” Trant said.

Which is good for Oakland Pointe, because its developer has called the tax credits vital to its construction.

“If we don’t get the tax credits, the project isn’t feasible,” project developer Kevin Connelly told supervisors on Feb. 12. While the application’s public hearing was held Feb. 12, the board decided to defer its vote until Feb. 26 to give Connelly time to decrease the number of units in the complex. The project was ultimately approve.

Allocations from the tax credit program are finalized Dec. 13, according to an application schedule provided by Trant.

Connelly has said he intends to own Oakland Pointe, and that potential residents would be subject to income-level and background-check screenings.

The supervisors’ vote rezoned almost 15 acres on which the complex would be built from general agricultural to multi-family residential.

The apartments themselves would sit on about 14.5 acres near the intersection of Oakland Drive and Richmond Road. An adjacent parcel, less than half an acre in size, would be the site of an access road from the complex onto Oakland Drive.

Oakland Pointe has been a point of contention in the community, and has been tweaked a couple times in response to criticism since it made its public debut.

The access road placement was changed from an initial proposal to have the access road feed onto Richmond Road directly, and the initial project was a 126-unit complex, which was trimmed down in response to concerns voiced by some supervisors.

The parcels sit inside the Primary Service Area, a county-designated zone slated for future development because property inside the zone either has or is expected to have access to utilities.

Oakland Pointe is intended to increase James City County’s affordable housing stock. A 2016 study by the county found there are too few housing options for low- and moderate-income people.

According to data collected by the county’s Affordable Housing Task Force, more than 8,000 households, which is a third of the total households in the county, struggle to afford housing costs without sacrificing other expenses such as food and medicine.

Oakland Pointe would have rents that range from $495 for a two-bedroom unit with one-and-a-half baths, to $940 for a three-bedroom unit with two baths. James City’s median gross rent (rent plus utilities) was estimated to be $1,148 per month, according to the 2016 housing study.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

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