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A skyline that sprouts new buildings at a dizzying pace. Neighborhoods dotted with new breweries and renovated mills. Thousands of new apartments springing up beside light rail lines. The signs of Charlotte’s booming prosperity are everywhere. But that prosperity isn’t spread evenly. And from Charlotte’s “corridors of opportunity,” it can seem a long way off, more like a distant promise than the city’s reality.

Economy Inn property off Sugar Creek may soon see new townhomes

The Economy Inn functioned as housing of last resort for about a dozen people. It was also a haven for crime.
Lisa Worf
The Economy Inn functioned as housing of last resort for about a dozen people. It was also a haven for crime.

The Economy Inn was among a dozen hotels clustered around the Interstate 85 exit at West Sugar Creek Road. It was known as a last resort for people, before ending up on the streets. It was also a hotspot for crime in an area where the violent crime rate is about nine times higher than in Mecklenburg County as a whole.

Charlotte City Council will vote Monday on turning over that property to developers planning to build townhomes where the dilapidated motel one stood.

City leaders bought the four acres for $4.2 million last year, hoping to reduce crime and add more affordable housing. The city demolished the motel and relocated about a dozen residents with the help of $1 million from the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative.

The plan now is to sell the property to two affordable housing developers for $1: True Homes and Prosperity Alliance. They’ve told the city they want to build at least 39 townhomes on the property.

The townhomes would be sold to people making 80% of the area median income or less, or about $80,000 for a family of four.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.