BizWorthy: Affordable Housing In Ballantyne, Buzzy Neighborhood Names, And Doughnut Milkshakes

Aug 1, 2019

Something new is in the works for Ballantyne: affordable housing. Developer Northwood Office says it plans to make that part of a massive project it’s planning near the Ballantyne Hotel.

It includes 2,200 multifamily units — about 175 of which would be set aside for people making 80% of the area median income. For more on this and other business news, Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter joins WFAE's "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry for our segment BizWorthy.

Marshall Terry: So, Tony: Affordable housing being announced in Ballantyne — that's a bit of a surprise.

Tony Mecia: It is a little bit of a surprise, Marshall. Ballantyne is not traditionally an area when you think of affordable housing in Charlotte that gets mentioned or that gets thought of, or, if it does get mentioned, it's because there really isn't any affordable housing in Ballantyne. And, you know, this has been a big issue in the city, and the solution, a lot of people say, is if you really want to make housing affordable in Charlotte, you need to spread it throughout the city — including in places like Ballantyne.

Now there's this big development that is being planned down there and behind the Ballantyne hotel on the on the golf course where the developer, Northwood Office, would like to redevelop about 25 acres and put in a mix of apartments, shops, restaurants, an amphitheater — pretty big project. And a portion of that will include affordable housing. About 8% of the apartments there would be set aside, as you mentioned, for affordable housing.

Terry: And just how affordable would these places be?

Mecia: Right. That's sort of the big question. You know, affordable housing sort of spans a pretty big range. It can mean a lot of different things. Here the developer has said it would be housing that would be targeted for people making about 80% of the county's median income. So, for a family of two ... 80% of median income is about $50,000.

If you sort of break it out and do the math, that would imply rents in the $1,200-$1,300 a month range. So, you know, some people might look at that and say, "Gosh. That's still sounds pretty expensive. That doesn't really sound like affordable housing." But it is more affordable than a lot of some of the luxury apartments that we're seeing springing up all over town.

Terry: Let's look at development in a different part of town now. Demolition on part of Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth should start this month. Remind us what's going on there.

Mecia: Sure, so this is a big project run mostly by the county. It's a $35 million project. The county is going in and just refurbishing that stadium. It's an old stadium built in the 1930s — part of some of the money from the New Deal. President Franklin Roosevelt was one of the first speakers there in 1936. You know, this is an old stadium.

If you've ever been to a football game there, Marshall, or any other sporting events, those stone walls at the bottom are pretty darn close to the field, so they're going be moving those back, redoing some of the seating, making it connect to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in the area, you know, building up a memorial to the local World War 1veterans. So, there's a number of changes going on.

Terry: In other stadium news, Panthers owner David Tepper is talking about a new stadium for the Panthers.

Mecia: Yeah, pretty interesting. Tepper, in an interview this week with the Sports Business Journal, indicated really for the first time that he's interested in a new football stadium uptown — a stadium that could also support Major League Soccer. In the past, Marshall, what he's said is that maybe he would look at putting a retractable roof on the existing Bank of America Stadium, you know he's interested in maybe up fitting the existing stadium, but this is really the first time he's come out and said he would like a new stadium and would like some taxes to pay for it.

Terry: OK. So, there's been this explosion in the past few years of new neighborhood names in Charlotte in the vein of NoDa, which of course stands for North Davidson. There's LoSo, which stands for lower South End, MoRa along Monroe Road in southeast Charlotte, and there's also FreeMoreWest, which is at the intersection of Freedom and Morehead. You set out to see if these names are actually taking off. So, what did you find? Are they?

Mecia: Well, some are, and some aren't. The ones that have been around longer really have. But, as you mentioned, there are some neighborhood names that are really sort of being created by developers who come up with marketing-ready names that don't necessarily have any buy-in in the community — at least not yet.

So, yes, I went out to these neighborhoods asked people, "What do you call this area of Charlotte?" and found that in these areas — the place now called FreeMoreWest over by Pinky's, the place with a big VW Beetle on on the roof there at Morehead and Freedom — there was one person out of 10 referred to it as FreeMoreWest. Over in what is being called LoSo, which is over by Old Mecklenburg brewery — this is south of Clanton Road between South Tryon Street and South Boulevard — nobody referred to it as LoSo when I asked them. Although, there are some developments down there — LoSo Station — that's being developed in that area, and then went over to MoRa ... "Monroe Road area" or the "Monroe Road Advocates," and this is over by East Mecklenburg High School.

There was one person out of 10 that that said that she called it MoRa. But, you know, if you go to some of the more established places, Charlotte really has a history of of doing this. Uptown was known as downtown, like most cities. South End, that's that's a relatively recent creation in the last 20 years or so.

And, of course, as you mentioned, NoDa, with a little bit of a variation in pronunciation there. It was originally, I believe, referred to as "No Da." A lot of people now call it "NoDa," rhyming with coda. So that evolves. But when I went out to the North Davidson area, we'll call it, 10 people out of 10, of course, correctly identified that as NoDa.

So, it's just sort of interesting, you know: What do we call these these areas of town? Some of them have existing names, but we're we're seeing that this probably is a process that takes many years.

Terry: Finally, some Krispy Kreme news: The doughnut maker set a record at its location across from Concord Mills. What was that record exactly?

Mecia: Krispy Kreme says that it set a sales record in its first 24 hours of being opened up in Concord, because this is a new concept store that they have up there which doesn't just sell doughnuts — as though they were anything wrong with their doughnuts. But they've also branched into ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes with doughnuts on them and they're really going like gangbusters, so in the first 24 hours Krispy Kreme says that set a sales record. That's something I might have to personally investigate.