Businesses owned by women and minorities and small businesses are being actively sought to work with the recently chosen developers of Brooklyn Village, a 17-acre multi-use project in Uptown’s Second Ward, where the African-American community of Brooklyn was bulldozed half a century ago as part of an “urban renewal” effort.
“We have been fully mindful of the history and the expectations of this project with respect to its history,” Don Peebles, the sole shareholder of one of the project’s developers, The Peebles Corp., told the four dozen people gathered Aug. 30 at the Belmont Center east of Uptown. Peebles is a Miami-based national real estate and development company that ranks among the nation’s largest African-American-owned real estate development companies.
“Building a business as an African-American in this country is hard, and we know that,” said Peebles.
BK Partners held two meetings recently to encourage businesses that are 51 percent owned and operated by a minority or a woman or that meet the definition of a small business to contact the developers about working on the project. Businesses may become certified through the city of Charlotte’s Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprises Program, the North Carolina Historically Underutilized Businesses program or the N.C. Department of Transportation’s United Certification Program.
The developers are committed to having 35 percent of the project work performed by such businesses, Dennis Lacaria, assistant to Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio, said at the Belmont meeting.
The partnership was chosen in June by the county to redevelop two tracts of county-owned land along South McDowell Street, separated by the block that includes the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center.
BK Partners is composed of The Peebles Corp., a national real estate and development company based in Miami; Conformity Corp., a Charlotte commercial real estate company specializing in urban development, residential construction and historic preservation; and the Charlotte office of Stantec, an engineering, consulting and design services company with its headquarters in Edmonton, Canada.
In what BK Partners is calling Brooklyn Village South, a 5-acre tract that holds Walton Plaza, the company is proposing to build 395 apartments, including 49 affordable-housing units; a 150-room hotel; 107,000 square feet of retail space; 507,000 square feet of office space; and 964 parking spaces.
In Brooklyn Village north, on 11.3 acres that hold the former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Education Center and Marshall Park, plans call for 675 apartments, including 49 affordable units; 170 condominiums; a 130-room hotel; 145,000 square feet of retail; 174,000 square feet of office space; cultural and open public space, and 1,348 parking spaces.
BK is holding a series of meetings in the community, which began with an Aug. 4 “kickoff event.”
In September, meetings are tentatively scheduled regarding affordable housing and public open space and economic opportunity and approach to retail. A town hall meeting is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.
At the Aug. 30 meeting, the developers told attendees that they are looking for firms to work with in a variety of ways over the 10-year life of the buildout.
Stantec Project Executive Josh Storey said that design work on the project would begin “in a few months.”
And, said Conformity President Monte Ritchie, “This project may grow. We’re looking at other sites adjacent to this site.”
Ritchey said the developers would be looking for local companies to provide everything from legal and real estate services to construction-related services to janitorial and landscaping services after the project is completed.
Peebles said that the developers will be “looking at quality and execution,” adding that it’s often hard to fund such businesses “to provide services on the scale we need.”
Peebles encouraged business owners to consider partnering with others in making proposals, building their project capacity, and building relationships with banks for business loans.
“To do business, we’ve got to join forces,” he said, even with rival companies.
“The goal is to get inclusion on every aspect of the project,” he said.
For more information, visit http://brooklynvillage-clt.com/.