Opportunity Zones Expert Hired By City To Market Zones To Investors

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This article was originally posted on the Fayetteville Observer.

Murchison Road should be narrowed from four to two lanes to pave the way for a pedestrian friendly corridor where people can live, work and play, a consultant told the City Council on Tuesday.

Walter Davis, a founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners in Charlotte, which helped provide language in 2017 that was used in the federal “Opportunity Zones” law, was hired by the city to market its eight zones to investors.

Opportunity Zones allow investors to reduce or eliminate the bill for capital gains taxes. The concept is that investors get federal tax breaks, while the blighted neighborhoods get new businesses and upgraded properties.

The Murchison Road corridor from Rowan Street to Country Club Drive is one of eight Opportunity Zones in the city.

Davis said it’s good for the city to focus its efforts, so consultants developed a specific Murchison Road transformation project. The plan, he said, first starts with making the corridor two lanes instead of four from Langdon Street down to the city owned property north of the Rowan Street bridge, known as the Cat 1 site. He said the Cat 1 site should be used as green and open space instead of new development, as officials had previously discussed.

The Murchison Road corridor should be one in which people can easily walk and bike along and include multi-use housing with retail stops on the bottom and housing on the upper floors, he said. It should also include new “multi-use innovation corridors” that include business incubators that could be operated in a partnership with Fort Bragg, he said.

“We think you are going to have an opportunity to leverage your greatest assets,” Davis said.

He said the two-laning of the road could make it more pedestrian friendly, with on-street parking. He suggested a trolley system.

The corridor should also have more student housing and nightlife such as breweries, Davis said.

He said the corridor should be linked to other areas of the city through a trail system.

Davis said Fayetteville State University students gave their input on what they wanted along the corridor.

Councilman D. J. Haire said he can’t wait for the plan to be implemented.

“I’m really, really, really ready for some action, some budget ideas,” he said, adding that the plan could be implemented in phases.

Davis said they are developing a prospectus for investors who are interested in investing in the city’s Opportunity Zones, and he will be coming back with more information in about a week.

Robert Van Geons, chief executive of the Fayetteville-Cumberland Economic Development Corp., told the council that this is only an interim report.

“We’re not done with this quite yet,” he said.

City officials hope the Opportunity Zone program and other initiatives will help benefit the Murchison Road corridor, a five-mile stretch from Rowan Street to Interstate 295. It is one of the older historically black corridors in town. City officials say the corridor has been neglected over the years and have made its revitalization a top priority.

This article was originally posted on the Fayetteville Observer. See original post.

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