Jane Harrison submitted a Letter to the Editor of INDYWeek with her thoughts on their coverage of Downtown South. We are reprinting here what INDYWeek published as a piece titled:

Backtalk: Convenient Scapegoat

Raleigh resident JANE HARRISON, who plans to run for the District D council seat, objected to the fact we didn’t fault the council for approving the rezoning for the Downtown South development. 

“In your writeup of what you’re watching for 2021, you mention NIMBY opposition to Downtown South—a convenient scapegoat to dismiss authentic and varied community concerns,” HARRISON writes. “ONE Wake, a multi-ethnic coalition comprised of 43 faith-based and civic organizations and 50,000 households in Wake County, made their values clear. They insisted on affordable housing and living wage jobs including contracts with minority owned businesses, neither of which were adequately addressed. Similarly Partners for Environmental Justice was seminal in pushing the developer to commit to funding stormwater improvement projects to assist downstream neighbors.

Unfortunately, gentrification and displacement of nearby residents are a given without more stringent affordable housing requirements—the type of requirements that City Council could have asked for. Instead, they instructed city staff to craft a ~$200 million TIG (tax increment grant) for consideration in 2021—more public tax dollars to ensure affordable housing and other community benefits. This goes beyond the $80 million affordable housing bond that Raleigh residents voted for in November. Why didn’t Council put the onus on the developer with a project of this scale?

I wish that City Council had crafted an innovative community benefit agreement with [developer John] Kane—why not at least require a master plan so that we know what’s coming? And next time, insist on an equity analysis, a recommendation by Planning Commissioner Nicole Bennett. As developers knock on our door, let us have robust community conversations and negotiate to our fullest—in the public’s interest.”