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Neighbors, residents worry as housing authority looks to replace low-income complex

The Gladedale apartments on Providence Road were built in the early 1980s.
Steve Harrison
The Gladedale apartments on Providence Road were built in the early 1980s.

The south Charlotte public housing project known as the Gladedale apartments are for people earning less than 30% of the area median income. For a family of four, that’s about $28,000.

What makes Gladedale unique is that it’s in one of Charlotte’s wealthiest areas: at Providence and Old Providence Road, ensconced in neighborhoods with high-performing schools and low crime rates.

But the Charlotte Housing Authority, now known as Inlivian, wants to maximize the value of Gladedale, by tearing down the 40-year-old apartments and redeveloping the site — mostly with market-rate housing.

Instead of 49 apartments on 8.5 acres, there would be as many as 380 residences.

The proposal has alarmed some neighbors, who say Inlivian’s plans are too big — and too tall — for the area.

“You have the density that doesn’t fit into the area,” said Dennis Grills, who lives nearby. “The height of the buildings don’t fit in.”

Grills said he doesn’t object to the affordable housing that’s already there. In fact, he said, he would be OK with more low-income units.

But he says Inlivian’s proposed 90-foot apartment tower doesn’t fit in, even if it would bring more high-income renters.

“People are going to say we don’t want affordable housing and that’s not true,” he said. “Inlivian’s already here. Gladedale has been here since the 1980s. It’s just what they are planning to do.”

The Gladedale redevelopment is part of an even bigger proposal to remake 115 acres at Providence and Old Providence roads. Inlivian, Levine Properties and Northwood Ravin want to build a total of 1,500 new residential units.

All of the proposals require the City Council to approve rezoning petitions. The public hearings could happen later this year.

For Inlivian, remaking Gladedale is part of an overall strategy to create new revenue streams, so it's not as dependent on money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Inlivian also wants to create mixed-income housing, so low-income renters aren’t clustered in their own separate enclave.

“That’s public housing,” said Inlivian’s CEO, Fulton Meachem, in an interview with WFAE last year. “Those days are over.”

Meachem said it’s important for Inlivian to find ways to make money, even if it means building projects with mostly market-rate housing.

“What we’re doing now is bringing those developer fees, those property management fees that traditionally went to third parties, (we’re bringing them) back to Inlivian to sustain our operations,” he said.

But that hasn’t always panned out.

In 2018, Inlivian’s development subsidiary — Horizon Development — reached a deal with a Boston developer to remake low-income apartments for seniors in Dilworth. The Strawn cottages were demolished and the residents moved out — but there’s been nothing new built six years later.

Elisha Parker lives at Gladedale. Watching her son on the complex’s playground, she said residents are wondering what’s going to happen to their apartments.

“They asked because they are tearing down other properties, and we were wondering when they are going to put no apartments here,” she said. “But we were told it would be no time soon.

Inlivian said it will be five years before it demolishes Gladedale. Parker said she would like to stay, or at least be able to come back to the new development.

Research shows low-income children do better when they live in higher-income areas, like Gladedale in south Charlotte, and that fits with Charlotte’s goals to increase economic mobility.

“I like the area because it’s quick to the highways and it’s not that far from groceries and different things and pharmacies,” Parker said. “I like the fact that we’re in a neighborhood that’s close to a lot of older people and not a lot of younger people so there’s a lot of elderly in the community. Means less drama, less commotion.”

In January 2023, Inlivian proposed building 225 units on the Gladedale site.

In November, Inlivian adjusted that plan, saying it would now build as many as 380 units, of which 325 would be apartments. The most recent proposal calls for 20% of the proposed multi-family apartments to be income-restricted.

In the most recent rezoning document filed with the city, Inlivian said the affordable units would be for people making between 60% and 80% of the area median income. That’s more than double the income of the Gladedale residents today.

The housing authority told WFAE that anyone who is living at Gladedale currently will be able to return, and that some units will be set aside for people at 30% of the area median income.

In total, there would be 65 apartments set aside for low-income residents, which is just 16 more than are there now.

Grills said that doesn’t make sense.

“If you want to build a new structure that’s fine, but I would have more than 20% affordable housing,” he said.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.