Thursday’s opening of Mosaic Village – the $26 million housing and retail village near Johnson C. Smith University – symbolizes a “down payment on the future” that includes remaking the West Trade Street/Beatties Ford Road corridor, Mayor Anthony Foxx said.
Given some of the empty and dilapidated buildings along the stretch, “you might have thought that the people along this corridor didn’t pay taxes,” Foxx said at a ribbon cutting for the 300-bed, suite-style apartment complex, aimed at students and built with public and private money.
It’s “about time” your taxes go to help this part of the city, Foxx told students, university and neighborhood leaders and city and county politicians.
Members of the crowd stood or sat in folding chairs along a stretch of West Trade Street, which was closed for the 90-minute event that included prayer, speakers and performances by JCSU’s marching band and choir.
With its red brick and multicolored paneled exterior that plays off the project’s name, Mosaic Village is a business collaboration involving JCSU, the city of Charlotte, and the family-owned Griffin Brothers Cos.
Griffin Brothers, a tire and auto repair business in the Charlotte area, is the owner and developer of Mosaic Village. JCSU has a long-term lease. The city of Charlotte awarded a $3.18 million revitalization grant for a 30-year lease on 203 of the 400 parking spaces.
The four-story, 124,000-square-foot village includes 80 apartment-style suites for 300 tenants. There’s retail space available for leasing on the first level. No Grease barber shop is the first tenant.
Inside, there’s a mix of furnished units with two, four and five bedrooms. Each floor has a reading lounge and a social lounge. There’s a view of the uptown skyline from the rooftop deck, which is designed for parties and other events.
Cost is $3,000 per student per semester, according to Terry McPherson, JCSU coordinator of housing services and business operations. Occupancy is expected to be at 55 percent once JCSU students move in, including more than 150 who were staying at a Holiday Inn as they waited for construction to finish on the village.
That leaves room for students from other schools in and near uptown, and others in the community to rent space, too, McPherson said. Rent is $750 a month per bedroom for nonstudents.
JCSU President Ron Carter and Griffin Brothers president Larry Griffin Sr. formed an alliance after Carter became president in 2009. Griffin agreed to work with the school to renovate its former store at 1524 W. Trade St. The building is now the Arts Factory, the university’s 14,000-square-foot visual and performing arts building, which is down the street from Mosaic Village.
Carter became emotional when speaking about his and Griffin’s dream: “God has not disappointed us … Our vision of Mosaic Village has surely come.”
Even nearby artwork matches the name, including a colorful mural on the side of the building by local artist Abel Jackson, depicting scenes around and near the JCSU campus. Last March, the West Trade/I-77 underpass was lit up by $300,000 worth of 3-D lighting sponsored by the Arts & Science Council.
Among the first students moving in to the village were the Evans family. Yuriante, a social work major, and Brandon, a music business major, both 26, have two small children. They’ve been commuting two hours each way from Fayetteville since classes began last month.
Brandon called their two-bedroom space “a blessing,” which Yuriante said will work well for their children.
“It’s quiet. It’s our room. It’s not too big, not too small,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity.”