5 Things to Know: Latest Brookhill Village Plan Falls Through
...and four more stories from March 13-19, 2022
Latest Brookhill Village Plan Falls Through
Tom Hendrickson, a Raleigh investor who in 2019 announced he would rebuild Brookhill Village to better serve the historically Black community, confirmed this week that he will not move forward with the project.
In a March 15 email, Hendrickson, who runs Lookout Ventures, explained the decision: “In spite of the hard work and accomplishments by our team and stakeholders,” he stated, “the necessary public funding and support was not available to redevelop Brookhill Village in a manner that was financially viable and respectful of its heritage and current residents.”
He announced he will transfer ownership interest to a Charlotte firm led by Mike Griffin.
C.D. Spangler Sr. built Brookhill Village for Charlotte’s Black residents in 1950, when legally mandated segregation was still alive and well. Spangler mandated a 99-year ground lease on the property, which Hendrickson bought in 2019 and has now transferred to Griffin. Once the lease runs out in 2049, the property will go back to a Spangler-owned company, which city officials believe may complicate plans to make it viable affordable housing.
The apartment complex, residents of which pay an average of $463 in monthly rent, has fallen into a state of disrepair over the decades. Located on the edge of South End, Charlotte’s hotspot for luxury condos and apartments, it’s unlikely that most residents will be able to afford moving into a nearby complex. If Griffin is unable to successfully redevelop Brookhill Village, there’s a chance that residents will be displaced.
Despite this recent roadblock, Hendrickson confirmed that Griffin still planned to build stable affordable housing on the site using private funding. Residents and housing advocates remain concerned, however, about the potential for rent to rise and about the project’s uncertainty.
One of the neighborhood’s leading advocates, Ray McKinnon, responded to media coverage of the latest news with a tweet on Wednesday stating he was “cautiously hopeful.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s ended in frustration; it’s certainly another challenge,” McKinnon wrote. “I am hopeful, though, in a way I haven’t been in a long time relative to Brookhill. We must see the details, and I am happy that members of Brookhill Community are at the table, too.”
Restaurant Owners Found Guilty of COVID-19 Relief Fraud
On Thursday, a federal jury convicted restaurant owner Tarik Freitekh and his son Izzat Freitekh of COVID-19 relief funding fraud. The father son duo, who run east Charlotte restaurant La Shish Kabob, began their trial on March 8.
According to the FBI, the Freitekhs sought over $1.7 million in CARES Act funding by submitting fraudulent PPP loan applications. Using several shell companies owned by Izzat, they inflated both the number of employees and the payroll expenses. An application for one company, Green Apple Catering LLC, stated it paid employees $4.9 million in 2019 even though the company didn’t form until March 2020.
The jury found Tarik Freitekh guilty of bank and wire fraud charges as well as money laundering and falsifying materials. He reportedly fainted in the courtroom upon hearing the verdict, and will be remanded to prison until sentencing. The jury found Izzat Freitekh guilty only of money laundering and falsifying materials. He will be able to go to religious services and work until sentencingm which is expected to occur within two to six months.
Organizers Call on Charlotte Not to Cut Ties with Voronezh
Charlotte Sister Cities, an organization seeking to maintain Charlotte’s ties to other cities from around the world, is asking the Charlotte City Council to refrain from severing its relationship with the Russian city of Voronezh.
Charlotte has partnered with Voronezh for 31 years, exchanging culture through visits and regular communication. On Feb. 28, days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Mayor Vi Lyles announced intentions to end Charlotte’s sister-city partnership with Voronezh.
Charlotte Sister Cities (CSC), along with allies like International House of Charlotte and Charlotte International Cabinet, opposed this move, as did former mayor Jennifer Roberts in an op-ed published by Queen City Nerve.
In an email sent to city leaders on Friday, CSC pointed out that some citizens of Voronezh have taken a stand against the war on Ukraine. Representatives from other cities with Russian partnerships such as Roanoke, Virginia; and Tacoma, Washington, have issued statements of support for Ukraine while maintaining ties with their sister cities. Others have suspended, not formally terminated, their sister cities partnerships with Russian towns.
In Friday’s email, CSC insisted that diplomatic partnerships “promotes peace, stability, and the potential for healing,” and that cutting ties with Russia would do more harm than good. Charlotte City Council is expected to discuss and potentially vote on whether to end the partnership at its March 28 meeting.
NC AG Opens Up Investigation into Mark Meadows
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) confirmed on Thursday that it is investigating former Trump official Mark Meadows for allegations of voter fraud.
Earlier this month, The New Yorker reported that Meadows listed a Macon County mobile home address when he and his wife registered to vote for the 2020 presidential election. Meadows requested absentee ballots, which were then sent to Washington, D.C. The former owner of that property said Meadows never lived there.
Meadows had also registered to vote in Transylvania County for elections in 2020 and 2018. Earlier than that, he had registered to vote in Jackson County. Meadows and his wife live in Virginia.
Macon County District Attorney Ashley Welch has recused herself from the investigation due to Meadows making a contribution to her 2014 election campaign. She passed the matter on to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who asked the SBI and the State Board of Elections to investigate these allegations.
Meadows, a Republican congressman who served as chief of staff for the Trump administration, pushed to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election due to baseless claims of election rigging. He has not responded to multiple requests for comment from various publications.
Two More Homicides This Week
Gun violence claimed two more lives in Charlotte this week, bringing 2022’s total number of homicides up to 13.
At around 7:16 p.m. on Monday, CMPD responded to a shooting in west Charlotte’s Enderly Park neighborhood and found 58-year-old Gerald McCombs suffering from a gunshot wound. Medic transported McCombs to a nearby hospital, where he was then pronounced dead.
CMPD stated in a press release that detectives had contacted and interviewed a person of interest during the investigation. They are no longer looking for suspects and have not made any arrests.
At around 6:16 p.m. the following night, officers responded to a shooting in the Southside Homes neighborhood in south Charlotte. They identified two juvenile victims who had been shot. After being transferred to a nearby hospital, one of the victims, a 14-year-old boy, died. The other victim, who is a 13-year-old boy, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
CMPD has not announced any information regarding arrests or suspects. Both victims attended Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. The 14-year-old victim was a student at Randolph Road Middle School.
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