Almost 15 years ago, Charlotte’s civic leaders and neighborhood activists created the Renaissance West Community Initiative with the vision of revitalizing a west Charlotte neighborhood through an education village approach. This initiative is part of a national movement — and represents one of Charlotte's most ambitious efforts to break the cycle of poverty.
Here’s how Charlotte’s Renaissance West project has evolved
A timeline of the Renaissance West project:
- Boulevard Homes public housing opens on West Boulevard, just east of Charlotte’s airport.
- Charlotte Housing Authority (now Inlivian) identifies Boulevard Homes as its most dilapidated and troubled property.
- Citing conditions that are beyond repair and dragging down the neighborhood, the Housing Authority applies for a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to tear down Boulevard Homes and replace it with mixed income housing and a cradle-to-career support system.
- HUD approves demolition of Boulevard Homes. Residents are given the option to move to other public housing or to receive Section 8 vouchers for subsidized rentals elsewhere.
- The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board votes to build a new K-8 school on West Boulevard to be part of the Boulevard Homes replacement project.
- HUD awards the Housing Authority a $20.9 million Hope VI grant for a project that includes mixed-income housing and an education village.
- Construction begins on Renaissance West housing for senior citizens.
- The Housing Authority creates an advisory board to discuss the education aspects of the plan.
- Renaissance West Community Initiative is incorporated and hires Laura Yates Clark as CEO.
- Renaissance West Community Initiative becomes part of the Atlanta-based Purpose Built Communities network.
- Residents begin moving into senior housing.
- Construction begins on mixed-income housing for families.
- Voters approve a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bond package that includes $30 million for a school at Renaissance West.
- Residents begin moving into mixed-income housing.
- Mixed-income housing is completed.
- William “Mack” McDonald is hired as Renaissance West Community Initiative’s second CEO.
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools opens Renaissance West STEAM Academy, a preK-8 school.
- United Way of Greater Charlotte, now headed by Laura Yates Clark, launches a United Neighborhoods program that will provide long-term funding and support to Renaissance West and other neighborhood-based revitalization projects.
- Howard Levine Child Development Center opens at Renaissance West.
- Renaissance West STEAM Academy gets its first school performance grade. Based on student test scores it’s rated F and put on the state’s low-performing list.
- Renaissance West STEAM Academy is again rated F and low performing.
- COVID-19 pandemic forces schools into remote learning; North Carolina suspends testing and school performance grades.
- Howard Levine Child Development Center closes temporarily.
- Child Development Center reopens under new management.
- In-person classes and state testing resume but the state issues no performance grades.
- North Carolina resumes performance grades. Renaissance West gets an F based on low proficiency but is removed from the low-performing list because of significant growth.
- CMS unveils plans to turn Renaissance West STEAM Academy into a middle school and relocate the preK-5 students at an unspecified date.