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Developer Chosen For Brooklyn Village Facelift

Ben Bradford

County Commissioners chose BK Partners to redevelop Brooklyn Village, a one-time economically diverse, African-American community that was razed as part of the 1960s urban renewal movement. After Wednesday’s vote, many questions lingered for some commissioners about the $683 million project.

It calls for more than 1,200 residential units, with 10 percent set aside as affordable housing, 280 hotel rooms, 930,000 square feet of retail and office space, parking and a 1.9-acre park.

BK Partners will pay the county $50 million for roughly 17 acres, which includes Marshall Park and Walton Plaza. That is about $20 million more than the next closet offer, which is one reason Commissioner Pat Cotham voted against the developer. She thinks the offer is too good to be true.

“I just have a feeling that down the road they’ll say it didn’t work out the way we thought, the market changed and we weren’t able to get the tenants,” Cotham said.

The 5-acre Marshall Park will be gone with the development. Some commissioners wanted a 3-acre park, but others feared that would cause BK to reduce its land offer.

Commissioner Ella Scarborough is worried that BK’s plans won’t reflect Brooklyn’s past and that African-Americans won’t be part of its rebirth.

“All of a sudden, people want to come back and make it look like what they want and move all the people out that’s been in the neighborhood,” Scarborough said. “All of a sudden people realize those neighborhoods are in downtown and we need to be there and they don’t need to be there, whoever they is in your mind.”

The vote was 5-3 in favor of BK PPartners. Chairman Trevor Fuller says there will be time to address concerns.

Credit Mecklenburg County
County Board of Commissioners Chairman Trevor Fuller said, "I'm ready to move on and get something done for this county that's meaningful and not a lot of talk."

“There’s going to be a whole period of time for the public to engage with us to get input from all over the community about what the final plan should be,” Fuller said.

BK Partners is led by one of the country’s largest minority developers, New York-based Peebles Corporation. Fuller says he’s excited about moving forward with BK Partners because of its plan to include minority contractors.

“There’s far too little minority participation in developments that go up in this town. We have a developer who’s committed 35 percent of the participation in this contract to be with minority businesses,” Fuller said.

The first phase of the project will focus mainly on housing. BK Partners’ original proposal called for construction to start in 2021, but that could change.

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.