Feb 26, 2024 - Development

The latest on the long-delayed, much-anticipated Brooklyn redevelopment

Brooklyn Village site

The site on Friday morning. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Almost eight years after Mecklenburg County chose a developer to rebuild Brooklyn, the highly scrutinized project is moving along at a sluggish pace.

  • Recently, the master developer put a part of the property up for sale. The move could unnerve those already skeptical about the project.
  • But stakeholders say it's all part of the plan.

Why it matters: Some community members are frustrated with the pace of the 17-acre Brooklyn Village redevelopment. Descendants of Brooklyn, once Charlotte's largest Black neighborhood, have waited decades for some type of restitution.

The latest: Donahue Peebles III, executive vice president of The Peebles Corporation, tells Axios it was always their intent to bring on a third-party purchaser that would build in line with the vision for Brooklyn Village.

  • Horizontal construction of infrastructure and roads is underway to prep the site for multi-family and hotel buildings. Peebles expects that work to finish late this year.

Catch up quick: In 2016, Mecklenburg County selected BK Partners — a partnership between New York-based The Peebles Corporation and Charlotte-based Conformity Corporation — for the redevelopment. The first phase was supposed to finish in 2021.

What happened between 2016 and 2023: Mecklenburg County attributes the prolonged timeline to negotiations over contracts and site plans, developer due diligence and an 18-month closing period, which was extended another five months.

  • "There's nobody more incentivized than we are to move forward quickly," Peebles says. "Owning vacant land doesn't make anybody money. Owning buildings does."

Flashback: Mecklenburg County sold 5.7 acres in July for Brooklyn Village's first phase for $10.3 million — a price agreed upon in 2016.

  • Today the 1.56 acres on the market are valued at $8.2 million, according to Mecklenburg County property records.
  • That's up from 2019 when the land (not including the now-demolished Walton Plaza building) was appraised at $6.9 million. The larger 4.6-acre parcel increased in value from $27 million to $35 million.
  • In exchange for the discounted price, BK Partners agreed to the county's wish list for the site: build workforce housing, incorporate a park and pave new streets, says county asset director Mark Hahn.
  • Between 10% and 12% of more than 1,200 residential units will be considered affordable, Peebles says.

Zoom in: Real estate company JLL is marketing the site as a rare opportunity with "vast by right development optionality" — meaning the buyer likely could avoid going through a tedious city rezoning process and build whatever they want.

Yes, but: If the land is sold, the county's contract with BK Partners still stands and requires that what's supposed to be built, is built.

  • "I know it set off some alarm bells," county commissioner Mark Jerrell says of the real estate listing, "but it's really consistent with the master redevelopment agreement."

Between the lines: In the seven years since Brooklyn Village was agreed upon, transformative plans shaped for The Pearl, next to Brooklyn. Construction is moving fast for that "innovation district," which will be home to Wake Forest School of Medicine.

  • Brooklyn's incoming neighbor could help BK Partners attract a commercial buyer.

The other side: Construction is slowing in Charlotte and nationwide amid high interest rates and low demand for office space.

Another important aspect of the project is Peebles' commitment to hiring minority and women-owned businesses for 35% to 40% of the work. Peebles anticipates exceeding that benchmark once vertical construction gets going.

  • "We're gonna hold their feet to the fire on that," Jerrell says.

What's next: BK Partners has legal deadlines it must meet, according to the county.

  • Horizontal construction has to wrap up by March 2025. BK Partners has until August 2025 to start vertical construction of the multi-family component.
  • Peebles was hesitant to share exact dates but expects the first buildings to open within two to three years. The entire buildout could take at least 12 years.
Site plan
Courtesy of Peebles Corporation

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