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Council Quickies: Funding for the Future of Brookhill Village

July 10, 2023

The new Charlotte City Council stands behind the dais.
Charlotte City Council is sworn in. From left: New rep Marjorie Molina, incumbent Renee Johnson, incumbent Dimple Ajmera, returning rep James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell, incumbent Braxton Winston, returning rep LaWana Mayfield, Mayor Vi Lyles, new rep Dante Anderson, incumbent Malcolm Graham, incumbent Tariq Bokhari, incumbent Victoria Watlington, and incumbent Ed Driggs. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Charlotte City Council met on Monday for a zoning and business meeting, still needing to catch up on zoning hearings that were missed in a canceled June meeting. They also discussed Eastland Yards, with council members disagreeing with how city staff brought a certain recommendation to the table.

On the Agenda:

  • Consent Agenda/Zoning Hearings
  • Public Forum
  • Eastland Yards
  • Brookhill Village and Other Business Items

Consent Agenda/Zoning Hearings

As part of the consent agenda, council approved an estimated $1,000,000 for a Police Command Bomb Truck for CMPD as well as an estimated $5,254,861 for a new helicopter for the department upon trade-in of the current one. 

Though there’s been no mention of this, it would appear the department doesn’t expect to receive a $500,000 grant they applied for from the federal government for The Rook, which was justified as a vehicle to be mostly used by the department’s bomb squad. 

Three neighbors spoke against a proposed development of 43 townhomes on 4.3 acres at the corner of David Cox and West Sugar Creek roads. Planning staff did not recommend approval of the project and has requested that developers break up the blocks of five and six townhomes down to two or three connected units.  

The proposed development at David Cox and West Sugar Creek road.

One neighbor voiced her disappointment with the fact that council canceled and rescheduled the hearing twice, making it harder for community members like herself to show up in opposition.

Another neighbor complained that District 4 rep Renee Johnson did not show up at either of the two community meetings for the development, though she apparently found time to walk the site with a rep for the developer, former council member Michael Barnes.

Johnson said she was not available during the one community meeting she knew about because it was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. She said she was available by phone at any time, however, and stood by her record of holding developers accountable for density in D4. She said the project in question is “not a done deal.”

She added that she does hope developers and community members can find a compromise and make the project come to fruition at some point in the future because it is a for-sale development, which many community members want, and is “not gigantic.” 

Public Forum

Local volunteer Debbie Glass addressed council about the dire need for more funding at CMPD’s Animal Care & Control. She shared an experience about a woman who tried to find care for her dog at the shelter due to a coming military deployment and was tearfully turned down.

Another volunteer told a similar story of an elderly woman who came to find a safe haven for her dog that she could no longer care for due to health issues and was told the dog would be euthanized if left because of capacity issues. She left the shelter without her dog and in tears.

Eastland Yards

Dozens of residents were in attendance at tonight’s meeting specifically for the Eastland update, though no action was being asked of council. There are still two options on the table for the easternmost part of the site, as we reported in June

Staff recommended the city move forward with the next phase of due diligence for the QC East development, going against the petition from neighbors calling for Indoor Sports Complex (linked above), but recommended the city “continue conversations with the ISP team about future opportunities in Charlotte.”

A look at the future Eastland Yards site shows a huge pile of dirt and gravel with some infrastructure piping and a truck or two.
The eastern part of the Eastland Yards site. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

James “Smuggie” Mitchell said there was a problem with the process because there’s no reason staff should be coming to council with a recommendation on a night when council isn’t being asked to take any action. “Council must give staff direction on how to move forward.”

Mayor Lyles said the issue hadn’t even been voted on by the Economic Development committee. “Well, now we’re really getting ahead of ourselves,” said Smuggie. He asked that the staff not make recommendations before a committee has even voted. “Can we just do this right?”

LaWana Mayfield pointed out that this recommendation was coming from a committee that includes reps from the county and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. She didn’t appreciate outside partners trying to direct council on how to vote and said she will ignore the recommendation. “Let’s get it right.”

Malcolm Graham said that, though he is not married to either option, he also wants to get it right. He pointed out that no committees had met in July and there has been pressure to move forward with a choice, so he had no issue with the city/county/CRVA committee moving forward with an unbiased evaluation.

Just 45% of the 522 survey respondents in the evaluation’s community outreach efforts reported having eastside zip codes (28205, 28212, 28215, 28277). Victoria Watlington says those responses should be given precedent while pointing out that neighbors have already voiced their choice.

The last council member to speak, east Charlotte rep Marjorie Molina said, “I have a big fear to get [Eastland] wrong, and that’s one of the big reasons I’ve asked for patience … the only thing I care about is the highest and best outcome. Whether it’s A or B, I don’t care. I have a vision that includes the voices of the community that I have met and the most viable opportunity for the East Side that is going to create what we’ve waited for.” 

Molina pointed out that the average income in east Charlotte is $10,000 below the Charlotte average, and only 28% of residents have college degrees. “We need infrastructure, we need economic opportunities, we need transportation, we need a list of things,” she said. 

Mayor Lyles referred the issue to the Economic Development Committee to convene ASAP and consider everything that’s been discussed at the meeting then come back with its own recommendation for a process to be adopted by council.

Brookhill Village and Other Business Items

Council approved accepting a $260,000 grant from Lowe’s Home Improvement for the construction of the Urban Arboretum Trail Spring Street Plaza in the Greenville neighborhood. The Spring Street Plaza will feature an orchard/native tree grove and plaza with a variety of seating areas.

Council approved allocation of $3,500,000 from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund for the preservation of the Brookhill Village Apartments affordable housing development, including 100 affordable units w/ affordability requirements through 2049.

Originally developed in 1950 and located on South Tryon Street near the rapidly growing South End, Brookhill Village consists of approximately 35 acres under an original 99-year ground lease, which expires in 2049.

Two girls play in an inflatable pool in front of an apartment in Brookhill Village while adults look on
Local photographer Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. documented life in Brookhill Village in 2018. (Photo by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.)

Of the 100 affordable units, 78 are currently occupied, primarily by families (legacy households) at 30% of the area median income or below. Rents will be preserved at affordable levels for all legacy households, so long as they remain in the Brookhill Village through the end of the ground lease in 2049.

Twenty-two of the Affordable Units are unoccupied and will be devoted to The Harvest Center’s transitional housing program through the end of the ground lease. 

The Harvest Center, a local nonprofit organization focused on individuals and families experiencing non-chronic, situational homelessness, will establish and administer an on-site transitional housing program for low-income individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Over time, as the 78 legacy households voluntarily exit the Brookhill Village affordable units, half of the vacated units will be devoted to The Harvest Center’s transitional housing program while the other half will be maintained as affordable rental units accessible to households with income in the 30-80% percent AMI range.

All of the 100 affordable units will remain affordable to households earning less than 80% of the AMI for the duration of the ground lease.

Griffin Brothers Companies has not yet finalized development plans for other parts of the property, but they are expected to include market-rate, mixed-use development. 

Council will meet for a zoning meeting on Monday, July 17.

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