CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Real estate and development professionals in Charleston are learning about new initiatives to support the need for more housing in the Kanawha Valley area, including an incentive program that would provide up to $50,000 in cash rewards to build new and affordable housing in the region.

They met for the first of two community input meetings hosted by the Charleston Land Reuse Agency (CLRA) to not only learn about the New Construction Incentive Program, but also voice their concerns on the needs and barriers of housing redevelopment.

Wednesday’s meeting was a Developer Roundtable event to discuss the initiative. A City Planner for the City of Charleston, John Butterworth explained more about the incentive program that he said would provide a lot of new opportunities for building new, affordable homes in the area.

“We’re providing $35,000 for the development of new single- family homes within the city, and an extra incentive of $15,000 for development on lots owned by the Land Reuse Agency, so a total of $50,000,” Butterworth said.

He said they are also working on an application to the state for the BUILD WV Housing Development Tax Credit District. This designation would allow for new construction and redevelopment tax incentives to stimulate investment in the city.

Wednesday’s event included a presentation by Bowen National Research about the regional housing study that was conducted last year and was funded by Advantage Valley, a regional economic development organization.

The study found that there were a total of 621 available homes in the current housing supply throughout the region, an availability rate representing just 0.4% of homes. In comparison, the availability rate of healthy and well-balanced housing markets is between 2.0% and 3.0%.

In Kanawha County, the study found that the total available number of housing units was the highest out of all of the ten counties represented in the study at 269 available homes.

Bowen National went on to reveal that there are 57 sites in the region that were identified as potential future residential locations, which they said such sites are necessary in order for the housing market to expand.

Butterworth said as many homes are becoming more and more outdated across the city, there is definitely a need to build new ones.

“We’ve got an older housing stock, we need to build new, safe, affordable homes for working families and individuals here in the City of Charleston and that’s really where the Land Reuse Agency has focused their efforts on, acquiring properties for single family redevelopment, but also conservation and increasing quality of live in neighborhoods,” he said.

After the City of Charleston established the Land Reuse Agency back in 2019, the organization has been working to acquire vacant and abandoned lots throughout the city to potentially be used for future real estate opportunities.

Butterworth said Wednesday’s meeting was specifically geared toward people working in real estate, development, and construction who can help bring the new vision of residential redevelopment to the Capital City. He said their feedback is the missing piece to the puzzle in getting the redevelopment initiatives fully underway.

“We need to hear from our development and real estate community, we need to know what the challenges are and we need to know what they think the potential solutions are so we can work to bring those sort of resources to the table, without that dialogue, I don’t know that we’re going to be successful, so that’s what we’re here to do today,” said Butterworth.

The agency’s next public input session is set for next Wednesday, February 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Roosevelt Community Center. It will provide the opportunity to learn about the current work of the CLRA and provide feedback regarding neighborhood priorities.