Mixed-Income Development Coming to Charlotte’s Uptown

Affordable Housing Finance, September 24, 2020

Laurel Street and the Little Rock Community Development Corp. (CDC) are partnering to create a sustainable and inclusive apartment community adjacent to the Little Rock Cultural Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The community will add much-needed housing to Center City Charlotte that focuses on quality and responsible design through a focus on reducing parking and encouraging transit, reusing a brownfield site, and serving a diverse range of households of varying ages, income levels, and family sizes, according to the developers.

The Little Rock AME Zion Church is contributing land to Little Rock CDC for the development and participating in an innovative shared parking arrangement to reduce the parking the development will need to build. The city of Charlotte is donating vacant land for the development. Through the use of the North Carolina Brownfields Program, the city land will be fully remediated and put back into productive use.

The 67 one-, 24 two-, and 14 three-bedroom apartments will be National Green Building Standard certified. Fifty apartments will be income-restricted, and 55 will be rented at market rates. When completed, the community will be the most inclusive and diverse community in uptown Charlotte, say the developers.

Designed in a “U” shape, the five-story community will provide courtyard space for outdoor amenities such as a game lawn, a water feature, a dining area, a fire pit, and grills. Indoor amenities will include a fitness room, a lounge, a café, a business center, and two elevators. Interiors will feature a high standard of living indistinguishable from other market-rate properties, including granite countertops, luxury vinyl tile flooring, and distinctive lighting. Vertical construction is slated to begin in early 2021, and the community will welcome its first residents in 2022.

Little Rock CDC is a nonprofit formed by Little Rock AME Zion Church and led by senior pastor the Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker.

“As Little Rock AME Zion Church celebrates its 137th anniversary of serving the residents of First Ward, Little Rock CDC is excited to be partnering with Laurel Street to bring an inclusive community for people of all ages and incomes to the First Ward neighborhood,” said Walker. “This new community is the culmination of a long-term dream to combine the resources of the Little Rock AME Zion Church with land owned by the city of Charlotte to further the mission of both the CDC and the church to serve the families and individuals of First Ward and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

The development’s location in Uptown Charlotte, one of the largest employment centers in the region, will offer residents access to retail and grocery options within walking distance, as well as recreation opportunities including First Ward Park and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The LYNX Blue Line 7th Street Station, LYNX Gold Line, and Charlotte Area Transportation Center are all less than a half-mile from the community.

“We salute Little Rock CDC for their initiative to bring much-needed sustainable and inclusive housing to Charlotte,” said Dionne Nelson, president and CEO of Laurel Street. “Usually the cost basis for buying land in a location like this would be cost prohibitive, so we are thankful to Little Rock AME Zion Church and the city of Charlotte for their willingness to dedicate land to this effort and to the city of Charlotte and local businesses and constituents for their support of mixed-income housing.”

The total development cost is approximately $18.5 million. Financing will include $1.5 million from the Charlotte Housing Trust Fund along with $3.2 million from the Local Initiatives Support Corp. through its administration of the Charlotte Housing Opportunity Investment Fund as well as pro bono legal services from Moore and Van Allen to the Little Rock CDC. The balance of development costs will be financed with private equity and debt. No tax credits will be used for this project.