By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
The Tribal Housing Division of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians conducted a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17 in the Hickory Room at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort to provide information to respondents to the Request for Qualifications on the Camp Creek (also known as the Old Doc Mitchell Farm-place) Housing Development project. The property resides in Jackson County.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed thanked all the respondents for coming. “The project before you represents the single greatest leap in housing for our enrolled members in a very long time. The lay of the land is beautiful. There is just a wealth of potential. We are very excited to see the presentations”.
The project’s scope of work states that the Tribe “is seeking to obtain architectural, engineering, and professional consulting services from qualified firms for master plan design.” It also specifies the needs as low to moderate income housing, workforce housing, rental units, single-family homes, and water/sewer. Additional requirements include a convenience store, laundry mat, community room, fitness center, and property management.
This meeting was part of the overall timeline to “meet with proposing firms for clarification of project” and a site visit.
EBCI Secretary of Housing Travis Smith addressed the gathering of approximately 20 people from various firms. Smith explained the challenges of building on the Qualla Boundary, “We don’t have a housing problem here on the Boundary. We have a land problem. Thirty percent of the land is buildable. The rest of it is not. So, we are looking off Boundary to make purchases to where we can not only help our people but help the workforce that we need, the surrounding counties’ needs and their workforce also.”
Secretary Smith stressed the need for workforce housing. As economic development opportunities grow and EBCI creates jobs on the Boundary, the demand for housing workers for the Tribe’s endeavors continues to increase he noted. The available, buildable land in this project is approximately 188 acres.
Secretary Smith turned the meeting over to T.W. Saunooke, Housing Production manager, who discussed specifics about the property’s topography, natural and manmade constructions on the site that might be of relevance to the developers vying for the project. According to Saunooke, the Tribe wants to know how many total living units based on the capacity of the land and expect a good return on investment. The topographic map provided shows exiting tribal water lines 6000 feet from the sight and tribal sewer lines roughly 4300 feet. There are a pond and two streams on the property. Power is available on the property. Saunooke presented a video flyover video of the entire property. He pointed out landmarks at the site to the bidders. He noted that design would need to comply with the Jackson County slope ordinance and any other county and state ordinances.
Secretary Smith explained the need for retail stores on the property. “When we look at a project of this size, the build out and the number of units we think can go in; we look at building this out as another community. To have a community, you must have things there to support it-a small grocery store, laundry mat, some of those things just to help support the need of living there.” He also said that it is important to have “green spaces” within the plan, to include walking trails.
After the meeting concluded, the bidders were taken out to the sight to view the property.
The next deadline on the RFQ is Friday, Feb. 1 which is the deadline for proposal submission.