Frank Hielema is a native of Oxford, NC.  He holds degrees in physical therapy and epidemiology. He has lived in his present home in Raleigh for 30 years. Advocacy for justice at the national and international levels extends back to his senior year of high school. Now he finds that indeed, all politics are local, as he speaks out against Raleigh’s implementation of the Missing Middle in Raleigh without sufficient public notice, citizen input or transparency. 

He is a member of the Steering Committee of Save Our Neighborhoods RestoreRaleighZoning

Frank delivered the following comments at the January 3rd, 2023 City Council meeting: 

Are six better than three?

The December 13 edition of Triangle Business Journal reported on the development taking place at 1406, 1412 and 1418 Lyon Street. Three single family homes that were purchased for $560,000 per lot were torn down in order to build 3 duplexes with starting prices of $1.5 million per unit, netting in excess of $6 million for the development. Each unit will be more than 4,000 square feet and will have 5 to 6 bedrooms. The article notes that the building of the duplexes was made possible because of the Missing Middle text changes.

The first photo shows the advertisement at the building site for the anticipated appearance of the completed duplexes.

The second photo documents the state of construction on the 1418 Lyon Street duplex as of two weeks ago.

Will six housing units in this location be better than the three that were replaced?  Or, is this a misapplication or miscarriage of the Missing Middle text change which was put into place without adequate thought having been given to the consequences?

Three homes that were significantly more affordable to Raleigh’s median income residents were lost to build 6 units affordable to only a small minority of residents.

Construction had not begun on the duplexes planned for 1406 and 1412 Lyon Street as shown in the third photo. The lots were stripped clear of all trees. With the building of these very large units, the other modestly sized single family homes which you can see surrounding the two stripped lots where construction has not started are now in danger of being torn down to build more McMansions.

The fourth photo shows the modest size brick duplexes immediately to the left of 1418 Lyon Street. There are 13 older duplexes here which fit the description of naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH). Unless we go into recession, we can expect that these 26 NOAH units will most likely be lost within the next 2 years to accelerated gentrification in the immediate area.

The fifth photo shows the existing duplexes to the left side of the street, and the last photo shows the naturally occurring affordable housing units on the right side.

Is this the intent of the Missing Middle text change? Or is this another example of how unencumbered developers will maximize profits in response to the text changes? (I concur with Councilor Harrison who has disputed the notion that building McMansions in one location will lead to trickle-down affordable housing in a different location.)

To paraphrase Myrick Howard of Preservation NC, you can’t tear down an existing structure and expect to get affordable housing in its place. If we continue this process of tear downs, Raleigh will become a city where only citizens working in the professions and other highly compensated tech workers will be able to live.

I encourage you to repeal the Missing Middle text changes in their current form, and to work toward establishing policies that allow increased density that does not destroy naturally occurring affordable housing as well as respects established neighborhoods.

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