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Mayor Vi Lyles moves forward with plan to demolish and rebuild home in McCorey Heights

Vi Lyles
Wendy Herkey

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles moved ahead on Wednesday with plans to demolish a home that she purchased in the McCorey Heights neighborhood near uptown, despite protests from neighbors who didn’t want to see the property torn down because of its history.

Records show Lyles bought the house on Madison Avenue in January 2022 for $418,500. It was previously owned by the family of Isaac Heard, Sr., a prominent Black engineer in Charlotte.

The neighborhood is nestled near historically Black Johnson C. Smith University. It was spearheaded by JCSU president Rev. H.L McCrorey in the 1900s, and was mainly developed throughout the 1950s and early 1970s.

The city of Charlotte designated the neighborhood as a historic neighborhood in August 2022. The homes in the neighborhood are mostly brick ranch-style homes. While the initial purchase didn’t make the news, Lyles’ plans for the demolition of one of the historic properties has driven the community to start a petition against the mayor’s plans.

Historic designation rules in Charlotte are more relaxed than in many other cities. The Charlotte Historic District Commission is responsible for the city’s eight historic districts. Lyles put in an application to demolish the home. According to the HDC, when an application for demolition is completed, the commission has the power to delay demolition by up to a year, but not block it completely.

Lyles obtained a demolition permit five days before the City Council voted to make the neighborhood historic, which means it didn’t have to go through the process. On Wednesday morning, demolition crews began taking down the historic building.

Lyles joined Charlotte Talks on Wednesday for her monthly catch-up and said the house was a teardown because of structural issues. “I did not take advantage of my position,” Lyles said.

“I really want to live there. But it's also, you know, a choice that the neighbors made. And I understand what I really appreciate, because I knew the family that lived in the house and it was important to them. But I also know that the practical nature of building something that's, you know, 50 years old and having to redo it all the time, it's not as easy,” Lyles said.

Some people were still unhappy with the mayor’s decision.

You can hear the full conversation here.

Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.