There’s a lot people want to see go up in Second Ward when it transforms into Brooklyn Village: a school, a hotel, condos, office space and restaurants, to name a few.
For years, elected officials, residents and business leaders have voiced ideas for what the area should become. Mecklenburg County commissioners added to the list Tuesday as they heard an update on the long-awaited project’s progress.
They want developers to make the site a one-of-a-kind attraction; they want the county to keep the developers accountable; and they want both to refrain from building pricey cookie-cutter apartments.
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“I would not want it to become a block of apartments (with) a coffee shop and a small park,” said Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour.
Added Commissioner Ella Scarborough: “I certainly hope we do not price out the people who are living here now and those who were a long time ago.”
The county this week identified three Charlotte firms – Crescent Communities, Citiscuplt and Conformity Corp. – in the running to help transform 17 acres that include Marshall Park, the shuttered Board of Education building and Bob Walton Plaza in uptown.
By March, the county will choose one of the firms to turn those properties, worth about $60 million, into Brooklyn Village, a mixed-use development named after the African-American community that stood there but was leveled during the “urban renewal” of the 1960s and ’70s.
Commissioners likely won’t hear pitches for how each developer plans to reshape the site for a few months. But here are some things they did learn Tuesday:
These 3 are the only 3
At this point, the county won’t consider any other developers. That raised concerns from the board about the field being too narrow, considering what happened with Spectrum Properties, which backed out of the project in 2013.
But Dennis Lacaria, senior assistant to the county manager, said the local firm that gets the job will be able to bring in outside firms as partners to help with the work.
Historians on deck
As developers are “digging in the dirt,” the county should create a process to preserve any historic artifacts they may uncover, said Commissioner Bill James.
Each of the firms has a historical consultant on its team, Lacaria said, and one has a map of what Brooklyn looked like before it was razed.
A center city school
It’s a question that’s come up in every recent conversation about Brooklyn Village: Will there be a school on the site? The answer: if Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools needs one.
Lacaria, who formerly directed CMS’ capital planning, said the school district’s prior capital needs assessments did not include plans for a school in the center city.
Still, a school could fold into redevelopment plans, although the school board would have to endorse it and the design may not be conventional.
“It could be floors within a tower,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a 60-acre suburban high school.”