A developer who failed to put affordable housing on land he bought from the city could be ordered to sell it back, an official said Monday.
The Charlotte City Council sold developer Robert Drakeford seven acres near the Interstate 277 loop two years ago with plans for him to build homes priced from $110,000 to $145,000.
City administrators will review whether to scuttle the deal in which Drakeford is pre-selling condos and townhouses for up to $235,000, said Tom Flynn, director of the city's economic development office.
An Observer story Sunday found city staff who negotiated the sale did not put price requirements in the contract.
“That was an oversight in which I take full responsibility,” said Flynn in a prepared statement. He said his office would give a recommendation to City Council on how to proceed.
Drakeford declined comment but sent a letter Monday to City Manager Curt Walton.
In it, Drakeford offered to resign as chairman of a city board that advises the council on how to create affordable housing.
The Observer reported that Drakeford stands to profit from a ballot proposal he is promoting as head of the Housing Trust Fund board. The proposal would give public money to a large housing development near the land Drakeford bought from the city.
City officials say the publicly subsidized project will increase surrounding property values.
“I will resign if the City believes that my involvement will impede the efforts of this board,” he wrote.
Drakeford also maintained that the city never asked him to build low-cost housing.
He said he is willing to build affordable units or take other steps to help the city meet its goals.
In 2006, City Council voted to sell Drakeford property along Statesville Avenue, just north of uptown.
He plans to build 78 homes and retail space.
City Council agreed to sell the land for $330,620, below its $789,500 appraised value.
The lower price would help Drakeford sell townhouses at affordable prices, according to documents council members received before they voted.
Drakeford is now pre-selling units for $170,000 to $235,000, Flynn said.
Flynn said Monday that Drakeford told the city he would not build homes in the $110,000 to $145,000 range because “the houses would be of inferior quality.”
The agreement allows the city to buy the land back for an estimated $580,620 since Drakeford missed a May 2008 deadline to begin construction, Flynn said. The buyback price reflects expenses incurred by Drakeford, Flynn said.
Drakeford now wants to start building in six months, Flynn said.
Councilman Anthony Foxx said he needs more information about the situation before deciding how to respond.
“There needs to be more conversation about what happened and what was expected,” he said.