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Charlotte Area

Community Leaders Urge Funding For Brookhill Redevelopment

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David Boraks
Some of the 300 units at Brookhill Village are boarded up, but about 143 remain occupied. A Raleigh developer wants to redevelop the site with a mix of market-rate and affordable units.

A group of clergy and community leaders is urging city leaders to find a way to fund the proposed redevelopment of the Brookhill Village apartment complex to include affordable housing.

Two weeks ago, city housing officials and the manager of the private Charlotte Housing Opportunity Investment Fund rejected a Raleigh developer's request for $13 million in loans to help redevelop the run-down complex off South Tryon Street. About $3 million would come from the city's Housing Trust Fund, the rest from the private fund.

In an open letter last week, clergy, housing advocates, labor groups and small business owners called on officials to prevent the loss of one of the south side's last remaining affordable housing developments.

Neighborhood leader and Methodist pastor Ray McKinnon said Monday that city leaders always seem to find funding for big projects. Last winter, for example, the city pledged $110 million in public money to help bring a Major League Soccer team to town.

"There's so many things that we're willing to say, 'Let's be innovative about.' Why not housing, especially when we know the consequences of doing nothing is too great for us to bear," McKinnon said.

"Let's find a way to make this happen," he added. "We know all the reasons why it shouldn't work. We know that there are obstacles, but if we can make things like soccer, which I love, and all the other innovative things happen, we can make this happen."

About 143 of Brookhill's 300 units remain occupied, some at rents below $500 a month, according to developer Tom Hendrickson. His $65 million redevelopment plan calls for 324 units, about half reserved for people with low incomes.

But his financing plan depends on getting public and private loans. Hendrickson has said if the city and the private housing fund don't help, he won't be able to include affordable housing.

Hendrickson has told residents he's doing all he can to make the project a reality.

City housing director Pamela Wideman and LISC Charlotte Executive Ralphine Caldwell had no comment on the open letter Monday.

The city manager is scheduled to update the Charlotte City Council on the project Monday night.

Brookhill Village is an aging complex about 2.5 miles from uptown Charlotte, near the Blue Line light rail and new apartment towers in the South End. Brookhill was built as workforce housing around 1950, but the area has been an African American neighborhood since the 1930s.

Open Letter to Charlotte City Council and LISC