Feds won’t seize apartments on South End’s edge over alleged drug activity

Brookhill Village at South Tryon Street and Remount Road
Brookhill Village at South Tryon Street and Remount Road

The federal government has reached a settlement with the owners of Brookhill Village on South Tryon Street that will avoid the seizure of the aging apartments for alleged drug sales.

In September, the federal government started the process of seizing the 36-acre property at South Tryon and Remount Road, citing a string of drug cases going back to 2011, along with a shooting, a robbery and the recovery of several guns.

Now, in return for dismissing the case, an entity called Brookhill Village Two has agreed to demolish or “substantially” renovate the run-down apartments on the property. It also has agreed to implement a system to screen tenants, provide on-site patrols and monitoring to prevent crime, provide better lighting and communicate frequently with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police about additional measures to prevent crime.

The settlement agreement follows several meetings between attorneys representing the property owners and the federal government, according to documents.

Brookhill Village Two, which is affiliated with Argos Real Estate Advisors, “asserts that it has valid defenses to this forfeiture action...and further asserts that it is settling certain issues by this agreement solely to avoid the time and expense of litigation,” according to the settlement agreement filed Thursday in federal court.

The privately owned complex of low-slung buildings dates to 1951. In a split-ownership structure, a separate company affiliated with Charlotte billionaire C.D. Spangler owns the physical land, while Brookhill Village Two owns the buildings on the site through a long-term ground lease. The government previously agreed to drop its forfeiture claims against the Spangler-affiliated corporation.

The agreement also says Brookhill Village Two has agreed to consider “divesting, merging, or changing their leasehold ownership interest to permit a different entity to take over the leasehold for its remaining years.”

While much of South End has boomed just blocks away, Brookhill Village hasn’t been touched by the ongoing gentrification and construction of more than 1,200 new, upscale apartments underway nearby.

Greg Pappanastos, a real estate investor and developer who heads Argos Realty, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment late Thursday. Demolition crews have already begun tearing down many of the structures, which, though run-down, provided an oasis of affordability in the area. A two-bedroom unit rented for $347 a month, a resident said in March.

Pappanastos said in June that demolition and redevelopment options were being considered for part of the site.

Observer researcher Maria David contributed.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo