Aug 3, 2023 - Development

3 city-owned properties in Sugar Creek, North End and West Boulevard will get new life

Economy Inn Hotel Site

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Developers are expected to transform a Sugar Creek hotel into affordable townhomes, a former school into mixed-income housing for the North End, and a vacant West Boulevard retail center into a thriving commerce hub.

  • The city of Charlotte has purchased these three prominent pieces of property — totaling over 16 acres — in recent years for various reasons. Now it’s seeking developers to transform them at the same time.
  • It is accepting proposals for the projects throughout the coming weeks.

Why it matters: The redevelopment projects are intended to replace underused properties with positive land uses for the communities, which could spur further private investment.

The Economy Inn

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

The shuttered Economy Inn, located on Reagan Drive between the Hidden Valley neighborhood and the I-85 interchange, is the city’s most recent purchase. The city envisions demolishing the hotel and building affordable, for-sale townhomes for low- to moderate-income families on the 4-plus-acre lot.

  • The housing must remain affordable for at least 20 years, according to the request for proposals.
  • This project is a step toward the city’s goal to reduce the number of hotel rooms in the Sugar Creek area and drive down crime.

Flashback: The $4.2 million purchase in April didn’t come without controversy. Some city council members said the city was spending too much while paying off a slumlord who invited havoc to the community, as WFAE reported.

What’s next: The city expects to select a developer by the end of fall.

Address: 5342 and 5350 Reagan Dr.

Double Oaks School

double oaks
Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

The largest tract slated for redevelopment is more than 11 acres near Camp North End. It’s the former home of the early 1950s Double Oaks School, which closed in 1981. The city purchased the campus from the public school system in 2018 for over $3 million.

  • Charlotte officials are looking for a developer to build market-rate, affordable and workforce housing for households making 50-80% and 80-120% of the area’s median income.

Zoom in: The surrounding neighborhood doesn’t have a full-service grocer. But the property, surrounded by a cemetery and residences, isn’t well positioned for a large store, either. A developer could incorporate a farmers’ market or include a small business in its plans though, the RFP notes.

What they’re saying: Melissa Gaston of the North End Community Coalition says residents would prefer a housing development include retail or another benefit for the community, such as a hub for small businesses.

  • “I know there’s a need for affordable housing, but we have tons of affordable housing surrounding this area. And I don’t think it all needs to be clustered,” Gaston says. “So if it’s affordable housing, it needs to be that 80 to 110 [percent AMI] — that missing middle part.”

What’s next: The city is expected to finalize a deal with a developer between late September and mid-December.

Address: 1326 Woodward Ave.

West Boulevard and Remount Road storefronts

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

A boarded-up shopping strip along West Boulevard will get a makeover and new tenants.

  • The city is seeking a proposal to revitalize the property as a “vibrant hub of commerce that enhances economic growth and community development.”
  • The redevelopment also could bring a grocer to the neighborhood. Plans are in the works to open a food co-op nearby, but that’s still years in the making.

Flashback: Before the city bought the property for $1.2 million last year, the federal government once seized it for being an “open-air drug market,” the Observer reported.

Details: The shops take up just under an acre near the Remount Road intersection. There’s one 8,000-square-foot building and a single unit spanning 1,040 square feet.

What we’re watching: The West Boulevard area will undergo a transformation in the coming years. Within a half mile of the future Silver Line light rail route, it’s already caught the attention of developers. Also, it’s one of the corridors of opportunity, meaning the city is investing millions into improving the streets and adding a decorative public plaza.

  • Rickey Hall of the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition says he’d like to see the redeveloped retail center enhance economic opportunity on the corridor and follow the recommendations from the Congress for New Urbanism legacy project.
  • Architects and planners with CNU created a vision to evolve West Boulevard. Near Remount Road, they suggested more mixed-use development, with retail on the ground floor and housing above.
  • CNU’s vision also calls for a redevelopment of the Golden Wok and a corner gas station.

What’s next: The city is aiming to pick a developer between mid October and December 15.

Address: 1527-1541 West Blvd.

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