Mount Holly to rehab 25 homes with $1 million grant

by Sarah Melton

The N.C. Department of Commerce has awarded the City of Mount Holly a $1 million grant, which will be used to revitalize a portion of the River Street Park area.

City manager Danny Jackson and Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, an engineering, planning and surveying consulting firm with an office in Charlotte, prepared the grant application and submitted it last September.

“I was happy and elated because when you think of a statewide grant, that kind of makes you a little nervous,” Jackson said of his reaction to winning the grant. “But we were very happy about being awarded the grant. We feel like we had a good application.”

The funds will be used to assist 25 houses on River Street, Nassau Place and a section of Elm Street between them. River Street and Nassau Place.  The area has 18 severely substandard units, four moderately substandard units and three units in minor, non-need condition. Of those, 20 units are occupied and five units are vacant.

The project area will benefit a total of 43 people, 100 percent of which are low and moderate income. Jackson said all of the property owners were very responsive to the changes and maintaining the work.

“There has to be ownership of the process,” he said. “When we work on somebody’s house to improve it and spend X amount of dollars to do that, the property owner is obligated to maintain the dwelling for a number of years.”

The $651,031 budget for the housing projects will include renovating 17 homes, demolishing five dilapidated houses, improving River Street Park, streets, sidewalks and storm drains and clearing land. The grant will cover the entire cost of the project, not costing the Mount Holly residents a dime.

The city would like to use the remaining grant funds to improve River Street Park by replacing an existing unusable kayak launch deck, improving an existing fishing pier and trails along the waterfront, creating new walking trails and access to an adjacent parcel owned by the city, installing new playground equipment, adding fitness stations along the trails and improving the entrance and parking area.

“The city chose this project area due to the severe nature of housing and infrastructure needs in the neighborhood, which contribute to slums and blight and consequently the health and well-being of the residents,” according to the grant application.

“One hundred percent of the residents in the neighborhood are low and moderate-income, which eliminates the possibility that the residents could make their own repairs. Without grant funds to assist the neighborhood, conditions will continue to deteriorate and the area will eventually lose its residential usefulness.”

City council members approved a Commercial and Residential Plan for Development along Highway 27 and the River Street Park area. The grant shows the city is making an investment in the community to help those that find it difficult to help themselves, Jackson said.

“The project will greatly help to enhance the neighborhood by raising the property value and structural integrity of the homes, which should benefit the well-being of those involved,” he said.

The improvements to the River Street neighborhood will likely begin in the spring and take a few years to complete. Although the improvements are being made in one particular area, it is something that all of the city’s residents can enjoy.

“During my years of working for the City of Mount Holly, I have known quite a few people that weren’t even aware of the location of River Street Park,” Jackson said. “Apparently, much like Mount Holly as a city, River Street Park is a well kept secret.”

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