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Affordable housing OK’d in Cherry

Long-time residents welcome development; newer residents oppose density

The Charlotte Housing Authority and Laurel Street Residential plan to build 270 rental units in the Cherry neighborhood, including on property that now holds 1980s-era rental units. Photo by Sharon Roberts

The Charlotte Housing Authority and Laurel Street Residential plan to build 280 rental units in the Cherry neighborhood, including on property that now holds 1980s-era rental units. Photo by Sharon Roberts

CHARLOTTE – Affordable housing in the Cherry neighborhood got a boost this week after the City Council approved rezoning petitions for the area. The council also approved a commercial project, deferred a decision on an office building and multifamily development and approved the private sale of land to pay back loans on the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

In late November, the Charlotte Housing Authority filed rezoning requests to replace the 51-unit Tall Oaks complex with several detached two- and three-story multifamily buildings and a five-story building. The $43 million project calls for the construction of some 280 rental units.

This week, the council voted in favor of the authority’s request to build 42 of those units throughout the neighborhood. It also approved a petition by Laurel Street Residential, a partner in the project, to construct several two- and three-story buildings with up to 30 apartments on the west side of Baxter Street.

A public hearing on the five-story, 200-unit apartment building, at the corner of Cherry and East First streets, is slated for April 20.

The CHA sought 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.

That issue has proved contentious in the traditionally African-American community that has seen recent moves toward gentrification. Several developers have constructed isolated groups of homes in the area starting at 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.

At a public hearing last month, opponents of the project cited the increased population density it would bring and a subsequent taxing of Eastover Elementary School’s already overcrowded situation.  They say 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.

Proponents cite a lack of affordable housing and the need for an overhauling of the existing Tall Oaks development, which was built in 1985.

The townhomes 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.

The apartment building would feature one- to three-bedroom units with rents ranging between $1,000 and $1,950. Qualified income ranges between $38,500 and $77,040.

In other actions, the council:

  • Approved developer Touchstone Village’s petition to build on a portion of a 10-acre shopping center with a new 75,000-square-foot office building, while retaining 18,000 square feet of retail space. The property is south of Pineville-Matthews Road between Carswell and Baybrook lanes. The property was rezoned to neighborhood services from conditional neighborhood business.
  • Deferred until April a decision on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department’s petition to rezone 26.5 acres at the intersection of Mallard Creek Road and Salome Church Road to single-family residential with four dwelling units per acre from commercial center.
  • Deferred until April a decision on Wilkison Partners’ request to rezone 6 acres on the southeast corner of Youngblood Road and Shelburne Farms Drive for the construction of 30 single-family attached dwellings in The Palisades.
  • Deferred until March 23 a vote on Mark Patterson’s request to build a daycare center on 2.7 acres on the west side of Prosperity Church Road between Prosperity Point and Pinewood lanes. Patterson is seeking a rezoning to conditional institutional district from single-family residential up to three dwelling units per acre.
  • Approved Pavilion Development Corp.’s request to withdraw its proposed rezoning of 1.8 acres at Nations Ford and Tyvola roads to install a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station. The rezoning would have involved a site plan amendment to the commercial center zoning.

In other developments, the council heard two people speak in favor of Lincoln Harris’ petition to build a mixed-use development with up to 1,000 homes, restaurants and other commercial uses on a 188-acre abandoned golf course on Providence Road near the Union County line. Site plans call for up to 650,000 square feet of office space, up to 250,000 square feet of retail space, 250,000 square feet of recreational use, and 265,000 square feet of civic use near the intersection of Providence and Ardrey Kell roads. Residential space would include 300 units for seniors.

Collin Brown, a representative for Lincoln Harris, said the developer is in negotiations with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to build a K-8 magnet school. The building would be used to ameliorate the overcrowding in local schools.  There were no speakers against the proposal.

The proposal features a public green at least 3 acres in size. Lincoln Harris is seeking a rezoning to mixed-use development district with optional provisions and mixed-use district from single-family residential, which allows up to three dwelling units per acre.

The council also held a public hearing on Meritage Homes of the Carolinas’ petition for a rezoning that would allow the company to build 20 single-family homes on 5.7 acres on Providence Road next to Candlewyck Baptist Church just south of Rea and Alexander roads.

The homes would be built on vacant property currently owned by the church between Candlewyck Lane and Cedar Croft Drive.

Doyle George, a resident of Providence Springs, which is within a mile of the proposed redevelopment, spoke against the proposal because of connectivity issues. He said the cumulative effect of heavy traffic from other developments in the area makes it necessary to install a traffic light at the corner of Candlewyck and Providence roads. Michelle Hawley, who lives on Providence Road, said she almost lost half of her family in an accident that occurred after a car smashed into the family car on Candlewyck Road. She asked for further assessment of why there were not more traffic lights in the area. She said she was shocked about plans for 20 more houses when the existing infrastructure was not sufficient.

Mike Davis, a division manager in the city’s transportation department, said he would supply council members with information on traffic accidents in the area.

The land currently is zoned residential planned unit development; the petition seeks to rezone 9.48 acres, which includes the church, to conditional residential allowing four units per acre for the subdivision and conditional institutional for the church’s property.

And finally, councilmembers adopted a resolution for the private sale of a land parcel to Crescent Communities for $10.3 million. Crescent plans to build a mixed-use development with at least 400 residential units, 55,000 square feet of retail and 300 hotel rooms on the block extending from South Caldwell Street to the Westin Hotel along Stonewall Street.

The parcel that Crescent is buying from the city is part of a multiparcel land package that the city is selling to pay off the $20 million it borrowed to help finance the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So far one parcel has been sold, a 2.28-acre wedge at the corner of Stonewall and McDowell streets for $3.8 million. It was bought by Charlotte-based Proffitt Dixon Partners in May 2013 to develop a 210-unit apartment complex.

The city is required to repay the loan only as the land is sold.

The hall, which opened in May 2010 and has fallen far short of sales and attendance projections, was built at a total cost of $192.6 million. The funds came from land and sponsorship loans from Bank of America and Wells Fargo, as well as from taxes.


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