CHARLOTTE – The City Council heard public comments Monday night on the Charlotte Housing Authority’s proposal to add affordable housing to the Cherry neighborhood.
The authority has filed rezoning petitions with the city to replace the 51-unit Tall Oaks complex with several detached two- and three-story multifamily buildings and a five-story building, all scattered throughout the area.
The $43 million project calls for the construction of a total of 281 rental units. At Monday’s meeting, the council took public input on four rezoning petitions that would include 42 of those units.
Fulton Meachem, chief executive of the authority, spoke in favor of the development, citing a lack of affordable housing in the gentrifying neighborhood. He said the existing Tall Oaks development, built in 1985, was in need of an overhaul and updating. He said its replacement would fit in better with the neighborhood’s single-family residences.
“This is more than a bricks and sticks project,” he told the council, adding that the new development would enable working families to move up socioeconomically.
Kristen Moyer, who lives on Luther Street, said she opposed the authority’s current plan, citing the increased population density it would bring. She said she had bought her house in April and was “unaware of plans to change zoning” to accommodate an influx of new residents. She said the lot abutting her property was too small for a planned quadruplex and proposed parking. Alexis Marteslo, who does not live in the Cherry neighborhood but sends her children to Eastover Elementary School, said the number of new residents would tax the school’s already overcrowded situation.
The CHA is seeking several rezonings that would increase density in the area, including a change to multifamily residential with up to 22 dwelling units per acre from single-family residential with up to eight units per acre.
Opponents said the proposed development doesn’t comply with the Midtown Morehead Cherry Area Plan adopted by the council in 2012. Much of the Cherry neighborhood is designated for lower density single-family residential, with various higher density residential elements at the edges and center.
As part of the plan, 81 town homes and flats would be built along Luther Street, Amherst Place and Baxter Street. Rent is expected to range from $600 to $1,200 a month for one- to four-bedroom residences. The sites would be reserved for individuals earning $38,000 or less per year. Renters, excluding the disabled and elderly, must adhere to work requirements, the CHA says.
A 200-unit apartment building, at the corner of Cherry and East First streets, would feature one- to three-bedroom units with rents ranging between $1,000 and $1,950. The authority said it hopes to attract professionals in law enforcement, education, healthcare and the service industry to the site. Qualified income ranges between $38,500 and $77,040.
The CHA is seeking N.C. Housing Finance Agency tax credits to help fund the development. Construction would begin next year and take about two years to complete, the CHA has said.
“CHA has been a long-time partner in the historic Cherry neighborhood for more than 30 years,” the authority said in a statement. “This $43 million project will expand housing opportunities to Charlotte’s working class families, a population segment that has been overlooked by other developers in the Cherry community.”
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department will review the CHA rezoning requests before making a recommendation to the City Council. The council is scheduled to vote on those petitions March 16. A public hearing on the apartment building is scheduled for April 20.
The Cherry area is one of the city’s oldest historically African-American communities, and in the past several years community leaders have been urging the city to protect its historic character and affordability from increasing gentrification.
Several developers have constructed isolated groups of homes selling for around $400,000, and Saussy Burbank has a project underway there that will bring 43 homes priced from the high $400,000s to the low $600,000s.