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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

YMCA selling NoDa location to developer

Johnston YMCA.
Johnston YMCA.

A big change is coming to Charlotte's NoDa neighborhood. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte this week announced it's selling the Johnston YMCA on North Davidson to a developer and that it will close at the end of the year. For more, we now turn to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.

Marshall Terry: Tony, this YMCA has been an integral part of NoDa for decades. So how is this news going over with residents?

Tony Mecia: Well, I think a lot of them in NoDa, Marshall, are disappointed or maybe a little bit frustrated. It's been no secret over the last few years that the YMCA of Greater Charlotte has wanted to do something with that space. This is a YMCA branch that's been there since 1951. They had been in talks with developers about partnering on something, but the Y came out and said this week that actually they're just going to sell it to the developer and, you know, get the money from that that they need, as opposed to working with the developer to maybe retain the Y branch there.

The NoDa Neighborhood and Business Association sent out a statement after the Y made that announcement saying it was very disappointed to hear that news. They felt like the Y hadn't been working with them because they really wanted, I think, a more creative approach to what it's probably going to go in there, which everybody suspects is going to go in there, which would be apartments. It's important to note that the developer has not been identified. We don't know exactly what's going to go in there, or when, but they expect the Johnson YMCA to close by the end of the year.

Terry: So land is at a premium in this part of town, as in many hot neighborhoods. How much might the Y make on the sale? Any idea?

Mecia: It's really hard to know how much. I mean, you can look at comparable sales. There's a piece of land on 36th Street where a developer is putting in some apartments — that was two acres that sold last year for a little under $4 million. So, you know, probably in the range of $1 to 2 million an acre. This is a site that's about six acres. So you can kind of do the math on that. Probably safe to say, several million dollars, at least for the Y.

Terry: Well, sticking with development for a moment, you report that more than 200 residents attended a meeting last weekend to get an update on several development projects in Ballantyne. Remind us what those projects are, and what did residents have to say?

Mecia: One of the hot-button issues at this meeting that I went to on Saturday was a proposed rezoning that would bring 1,100 homes between Elm Lane and Rea Road, about 50 acres of what's now wooded land. A lot of residents have been opposed to that, saying that they worry about the wildlife on the site and what it would do to traffic. Ed Driggs, who's the councilman in south Charlotte, said that he would do everything in his power to make sure that something like that didn't develop, and that the city is going back and forth with the developer on that. There was an update on the Ballantyne Reimagined project behind the Ballantyne Hotel. The Stream Park there is just about open, the wide-open play areas. As the name suggests, you know a stream going through there. There's an amphitheater under construction with some concerts expected this fall. And then there's some retail coming as well. A location of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is expected to open in early 2024.

Residents also received an update from the North Carolina Department of Transportation on plans to widen U.S. 521 Johnson Road. That's another Ballantyne hot-button issue. Residents are concerned that under proposed plans, they might not be able to turn left out of their neighborhoods, and would instead have to take a right and make a U-turn. NCDOT said those plans are still under discussion and no final decisions have been made.

Terry: Finally, Tony, the summer travel season is nearly here, and you report a new TV ad running in cities along the East Coast is encouraging folks to choose Charlotte as a destination. So what's the selling point?

Mecia: Well, Marshall, Charlotte has plenty of selling points. Charlotte, in these TV ads, are described as a city that's as captivating as it is evolving, has images from the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Whitewater Center, Mint Museum, Charlotte FC soccer game and restaurants. This is an ad that's showing in 16 media markets in the Southeast, paid for by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. They were able to double the amount they spent on advertising Charlotte to other cities by using federal COVID relief money.

One interesting thing, Marshall, is that these ads are also being shown in the Charlotte market, as well. You might think that people who live here know what the benefits are of living here, but the CRB says that it wants people to be good ambassadors, and to sort of let visitors know some of the things they can do and some of the advantages of coming here.

Support for WFAE's BizWorthy comes from UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business, Sharon View Federal Credit Union and our listeners.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.