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Uptown Charlotte Church Wants To Build Affordable Housing

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First United Methodist Church is seen in uptown Charlotte.

Mecklenburg County officials said last month that a long-time goal of affordable housing on county-owned land in uptown Charlotte isn't financially feasible. But other property owners in the North Tryon Street area think it is, including First United Methodist Church.

Credit First United Methodist Church
First United Methodist Church wants to redevelop an old office building on Church Street, at the rear of the church, to include offices and affordable housing.

The 93-year-old congregation is considering redeveloping its aging and underused church office building, which faces Church Street. What's being called the Second Century Project is still early in the planning, but senior pastor Valerie Rosenquist says it would include not only office space and day care classrooms, but also affordable housing.    

“So it naturally evolved into looking at how we might best serve our community and be able to also serve our mission. … And being able to look at some sort of housing that is affordable to all people was just part of what our mission is,” Rosenquist said. 

The church is considering selling or leasing the land to a developer who would build the project, though no discussions have begun. Rosenquist said it's not clear how many housing units might be built, but they likely would include a mix of market-rate and affordable housing. 

Affordable housing would be aimed at people making no more than 80% of the area median income, currently about $63,000 a year for a family of four. Think teachers at uptown schools, restaurant workers and firefighters at Station No. 4, across the street, Rosenquist said. 

Senior Pastor Valerie Rosenquist, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church.
Credit First United Methodist Church
Senior Pastor Valerie Rosenquist, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church.

“There are very few places where people who are making less than $80,000 a year can afford to live uptown,” she said.

Local leaders have been pushing to include affordable housing in new developments uptown, but it's slow going. County manager Dena Diorio recently announced that the Seventh and Tryon  project on county-owned land won't include affordable housing because it would be too expensive.

“I don't believe that,” Rosenquist said. “I've talked to so many others who do think it's feasible. It may not be the kind of thing if somebody is looking for the highest profit for incredibly high-end units. I mean, there's lots of different factors that go into what financial feasibility looks like.” 

There's at least one other project in the North Tryon Street area that could include affordable housing. In January, Bank of America announced it was donating about an acre behind the Charlotte Ballet, at 10th and Church Streets, for affordable housing.  

First United Methodist Church will hold community meetings on March 25 and 26 to explain and gather feedback on the plans. Once the plans are approved by the congregation, the church would seek a developer. Rosenquist says the church hopes to break ground next year. 

UPDATE March 18, 2020: Rosenquist says these meetings have been postponed, and will be rescheduled later.