A new plan to revitalize the former Brooklyn Village almost died on the vine Wednesday at a contentious meeting of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.
After a sometimes rambling, two-hour discussion of a staff recommendation to negotiate the sale of 17 acres of county land to BK Partners, commissioners finally voted 5-3 to allow County Manager Dena Diorio to begin the negotiations.
Commissioners Pat Cotham, Matthew Ridenhour and Ella Scarborough voted against the recommendation. Commissioner Jim Puckett was absent.
The meeting became contentious when several commissioners tried to stipulate that the eventual developer of the land must keep Marshall Park at a certain acreage. But Commissioner Dumont Clarke reminded the board that tacking on new requirements after requesting proposals from developers was not a proper way to do business in a public/private partnership. After Clarke’s admonition, the board voted to accept a motion to allow Diorio to negotiate without any requirements on the park’s size.
BK Partners, led by Charlotte-based developer Conformity Corp., set forth a plan that would pay the county $50.1 million for the land and build at least 107 units of affordable housing as part of the more than 1.1 million square feet of residential space constructed over the course of a three-phase, mixed-use project.
Other companies working with Conformity on the project include: The Peebles Corp.; Stantec;
Perkins and Will; and Cole Jenest and Stone.
County staff explained they chose BK Partners because their proposal did include the affordable housing that the county commission wanted and no part of the BK plan included buying the former Metro School property from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
At a meeting in May, county commissioners disagreed over what should be built in the area that once was home to the African-American neighborhood of Brooklyn Village.
The county last year launched a search for a developer. Staff members evaluated developer submissions in December and then put three proposals on a short list of finalists.
The county manager’s office recommended the three finalists, CitiSculpt, Conformity Corp. and Crescent Communities. Each company was required to submit financial documentation, development plans and an offer to purchase the county-owned land.
The project will span 17 acres in Second Ward. An 11.34-acre parcel called Brooklyn Village includes Marshall Park and is on South McDowell Street between East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Third Street and includes the former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education headquarters.
The other parcel, to the west of the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center, is about 5 acres and includes the vacant Walton Plaza building.