Freedom Drive Project Hailed As New Model For Affordable Housing

Dec 11, 2018

Construction has begun on a 185-unit mixed-income apartment project in west Charlotte. Officials say it could be a model for how Charlotte might spend $50 million in affordable housing bond funds approved by voters in November.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership broke ground Tuesday on The Mezzanine at Freedom apartments, with help from civic and business leaders.
Credit David Boraks / WFAE

Civic, religious and nonprofit leaders cheered as they unveiled the name of the $30 million project: The Mezzanine at Freedom. It's being built on 12.5 acres of land at Freedom Drive and Camp Green Street.

It's unusual for the number of public and private partners involved, which is nearly a dozen. Two companies donated the land — Marsh Properties and the Movement Foundation.

Covenant Presbyterian Church chipped in $2 million after the congregation prayed about how it could help solve the city's affordable housing shortage, according to church member Joe Taylor. The City of Charlotte is contributing $4.5 million from its Housing Trust Fund. Wall Street financial companies are also providing financing and investing in the bonds.  

Many are new to affordable housing work in Charlotte, said Julie Porter, president of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, which is developing the project.  

"It sets an example for what other private companies [and] faith-based institutions can do to actually move momentum on affordable housing," Porter said.

That's the hope in Charlotte, where voters in November approved more than tripling the size of the city's housing trust fund to try and chip away at a 34,000-unit shortage of housing for people who make less than the area's median income.

The Mezzanine is unique in another way: It will have both affordable and market-rate units side-by-side. Monthly rents will range from about $350 for a one-bedroom subsidized unit to nearly $1,500 for a three-bedroom market-rate apartment.

City Council member Lawana Mayfield, who lives in and represents the area, said the apartments will be convenient to uptown.

"This location, and its proximity to uptown, to Bank of America Stadium, to jobs, is so important to our community as a whole," she said.    

The project is expected to be finished in 2020.

ABOUT THE MEZZANINE

SITE: 12.5 acres at Freedom Drive and Camp Green Street in west Charlotte.

INCOME RANGES: 19 units reserved for families earning less than 30% of Area Median Income (AMI); 19 units for those earning less than 50% of AMI; 72 units for those earning less than 60% of AMI; 19 units for those earning less than 80% of AMI; 56 market-rate units.

MONTHLY RENTS: From $349 for a one-bedroom apartment for those earning less than 30% of AMI up to $1,450 for a three-bedroom market-rate unit.

COMPLETION: First half of 2020.