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7th & Tryon Project Moving Forward In Charlotte -- With Affordable Housing

The 7th & Tryon project is really four projects. It includes a new main Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, at right, and a redevelopment of Spirit Square, at left. Offices, shops and housing are included.
Mecklenburg County
The 7th & Tryon project is really four projects. It includes a new main Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, at right, and a redevelopment of Spirit Square, at left. Offices, shops and housing are included.

Plans to redevelop two blocks of North Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte are back on track after Mecklenburg County and other partners resolved differences that stalled the project this winter. It now looks like affordable housing will be in the mix.

The Seventh & Tryon project has been in the works for five years and would reshape North Tryon between Sixth and Eighth streets. It's actually four projects in one: 

  • A $100 million replacement for the main Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library
  • A $40 million redevelopment of Spirit Square
  • A $600 million private development of shops, offices and upscale apartments
  • And plans for affordable and market-rate housing on a site owned by the housing authority, Inlivian. 

Earlier this month, Mecklenburg County commissioners approved a preliminary agreement with private developer BP-Metropolitan. The Virginia company was among several teams interested in the project, said County Manager Dena Diorio.
"BP-Metropolitan came forward with a plan that would basically buy all the land up front, and they had a good development plan," Diorio said. "They had really strong financing behind them, and we felt like they were in the best position to execute on the project." 

Developer BP-Metropolitan will buy several parcels of land - part of the current Main Library site, part of what's now Spirit Square, and land owned by Bank of America where a police station now stands.
Credit Mecklenburg County
Developer BP-Metropolitan will buy several parcels of land - part of the current main Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library site, part of what's now Spirit Square and land owned by Bank of America where a police station now stands.

Metropolitan plans to buy several parcels of land from the county and Bank of America for $21.5 million. 

It's proposing to build an office tower, a mixed-use building and a public plaza in the middle of the two blocks.  

The city has offered a $25 million tax increment grant to help build a parking garage. That money would come from new tax revenues generated by the expected increase in the property's tax value. The city also would provide up to $5 million in infrastructure improvements, including streets, sidewalks and landscaping. 

Affordable Housing Puzzle Solved 

Meanwhile, the project will generate $18.7 million for affordable housing, some of it on the uptown site and some to be built elsewhere. That's a change from February when county officials had said it would be too expensive to include affordable housing in the project.

At a meeting June 2, county Commissioner Mark Jerrell called it a good compromise.  

"I believe in the need of having affordable housing in our uptown, also realizing the scattered site units are extremely important and they come at a much lower cost," Jerrell said.

The $18.7 million includes money from the land sales as well as a $3 million contribution from the developer. Commissioners approved spending that money to build 691 affordable units. Of those, 110 would be on site, and another 581 units would be built elsewhere in Charlotte. 

The deal worked out this month came after Inlivian presented a revised plan to redevelop Hall House at Eighth and Tryon streets.  

Dena Diorio
Credit CHARMECK.ORG
Dena Diorio

Diorio said splitting affordable housing between on-site and off-site was the "best of both worlds." 

"It allows us to continue to honor the commitment to have affordable housing on North Tryon," Diorio said. "But by doing the remaining units off-site, which is much less expensive, it allows us to really leverage the proceeds from the project and get a fairly significant number of affordable housing units." 

Several steps remain. The city and the library board still must vote this month on their pieces of the preliminary agreement with Metropolitan. Then the county would negotiate a final development agreement with the company, which could take several months.  

Diorio said it has taken a long time to reach this point. 

"I'm just really happy we didn't give up, and we continue to work through it and come to a place where we really can satisfy all the commitments that we made early on," she said. "I think this is going to be an awesome project when it's done. It's going to be the gateway to the North Tryon."

Most of the current Spirit Square would be demolished under the county plan, but McGlohon and Duke Energy theaters would remain. The private development around it would include a public plaza.
Credit Mecklenburg County
Most of the current Spirit Square would be demolished under the county plan, but McGlohon and Duke Energy theaters would remain. The private development around it would include a public plaza.

Spirit Square Redevelopment To Come 

Meanwhile, county commissioners also approved plans to redevelop Spirit Square. Most of the theater and arts complex would be torn down, with the exception of the McGlohon and Duke Energy theaters. Those buildings would be renovated and would share a new main lobby with the planned five-story main library to be built next door.

Diorio said arts and community groups now housed in Spirit Square will be notified soon that they'll have to be out by September 2021. 

The main library plans to shut its doors in August 2021. That's when work could begin on both the new library and the 7th & Tryon office tower.