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Many families priced out of living in downtown Raleigh

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Raleigh will be the seventh city to call a SkyHouse tower home. Raleigh will be the seventh city to call a SkyHouse tower home.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The groundbreaking of a luxury high-rise in downtown Raleigh is shedding light on a lack of affordable housing in the Capital City.

Developers Novare Group, Batson-Cook Development Company and Edison Land LLC have issued the notice to proceed for SkyHouse Raleigh.

Eventually rising to 23 stories over Moore Square, SkyHouse Raleigh will hold 320 apartments and feature high-end finishes and floor-to-ceiling windows. Soon occupying a vacant lot at the southwest corner of Martin and Blount Streets, it will sit in the shadow of another luxury high-rise, the PNC tower.

Raleigh's deputy planning director Ken Bowers said this development shows Raleigh has turned a corner following the recession. High-income housing is in demand downtown.

"Even though these units will be expensive, it tends to take some of the pressure off the demand for other units and should help slow the growth of rent," he said.

Others worry Raleigh's rental market is expensive enough. Carly Ruff, with the North Carolina Housing Coalition, points to data showing the average two-bedroom in Raleigh and Cary rents for $878 a month, compared to a statewide fair market rate of $737 a month.

What's more, the average worker in Raleigh only makes about $12.58 per hour and can only afford rent that's less than $700 a month. Many workers, Ruff points out, make much less than that.

"If you're making minimum wage, you have to work over two jobs just to afford that apartment," Ruff said. "We want quality, affordable housing throughout the city."

Still, Bowers said these new apartments should not jack up prices in surrounding neighborhoods.

"Whether or not SkyHouse is built," Bowers said the number of units currently available will remain unchanged. Both Bowers and Ruff agreed the city should do what it can to make sure the number of "affordable" units does not decrease.

SkyHouse Raleigh is the seventh SkyHouse project. Similar buildings are under construction in other cities.

The original SkyHouse is located in Atlanta, Ga.

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Derick Waller

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