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Cape Fear Collective to buy Driftwood Apartments, preserve as affordable housing

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 2:03 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - In its effort to find new ways to address the area’s affordable housing crisis, Cape Fear Collective is planning to buy Driftwood Apartments, a complex of 15 supportive units along Princess Place Drive in Wilmington.

According to a news release, CFC is under contract to pay $1.2 million to Driftwood Wilmington LP, in the deal.

“Driftwood has been affordable and supportive housing in this community for years,” Patrick Brien, CEO of Cape Fear Collective, said in the news release. “Given the need for that type of housing in Wilmington, it was critical that it stay that way. We felt that CFC was uniquely positioned to protect the property through purchase. We’re working alongside some great nonprofit partners to think through what the next chapter looks like for the community.”

The CFC news release says Driftwood Apartments is “a tax credit project developed by an affiliate of Jim Anthony of APG Capital and Betty Bisbee of Wilmington Housing Finance and Development (WHFD), to provide housing for disabled and chronically homeless residents. In January, Jim Anthony and Wilmington Housing Finance and Development, dba Driftwood Wilmington LP, put the property on the market because it had become too costly to operate.”

“I really feel blessed that we found a great partner to sell to in the Cape Fear Collective, a local community-based group that is committed to doing a lot of great things very different things and housing is just one on their bucket list of things they’re trying to do to improve the community,” said Driftwood’s owner, Jim Anthony of Anthony Property Group. “We obviously wish the best for everyone who’s ever been there and who will ever be there and we are very optimistic about the future of the property because we believe we’re transferring it to really capable hands.”

Cape Fear Collective uses real-time data and investment capital to help other non-profits achieve solutions to generational problems. The group’s drive to find solutions to the affordable housing crisis got a shot in the arm with a $2.5 million investment from Live Oak Bank earlier this year.

CFC will use the funding to purchase homes, townhouses or apartments in Wilmington and Pender County, and maintain them as affordable housing units. The investment comes with a two percent return over five years.

“A property like Driftwood is exactly why we launched our impact investing platform,” Brien said in the release. “The ability to move quickly, work with a seller to come to terms on a deal that will protect naturally occurring affordable housing, and then collaborate with non-profit partners to ensure that people in need are able to access that housing provides a lot of opportunity for deals like this. We believe that housing should be attainable for all people and this is just us doing our part in that fight.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) halted the sale of the property in February and barred WHFD from displacing residents, pending an investigation. HUD’s intervention came after advocates, non-profit leaders and even the city’s mayor shared their concerns over the proposed sale.

The City of Wilmington issued the following statement Tuesday on the sale:

“The city is pleased to see this sale of Driftwood to Cape Fear Collective and considers it a great investment in our community. Driftwood will remain as supportive housing under its new ownership, and for that, Cape Fear Collective should be commended. Affordable housing is a serious and pervasive issue, but when the public, private, and non-profit sectors work together, we can make a real and sustained difference.”

“The Cape Fear Housing Coalition is delighted to learn of Cape Fear Collective’s purchase of the Driftwood development. While we did not succeed in our efforts to protect the vulnerable persons with disabilities previously residing there, we are heartened to know that Cape Fear Collective will preserve the development not just as affordable housing but as supportive housing for our most fragile neighbors. This is the very best possible outcome and Cape Fear Collective should be commended for stepping up for our community in such a meaningful and impactful way,” said Cape Fear Housing Coalition Chair Katrina Knight.

Two residents remain in Driftwood, and leaders say those tenants will be able to stay.

Repairs to the existing Driftwood units will take several months, according to CFC. They hope to have their residents in the units by fall of this year.

WECT has reached out to a spokesperson for HUD for comment about the pending sale and will update this report when we receive it.

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