How a crumbling corner of South End could find new life as mixed-income housing

The Brookhill Village apartments along South Tryon Street and Remount Road were built in 1951.
The Brookhill Village apartments along South Tryon Street and Remount Road were built in 1951.

Brookhill Village has sat at the corner of South Tryon Street and Remount Road for more than 65 years, and parts of the affordable rental community has fallen into disrepair as South End booms around it.

Now, the single-story apartment community’s owners are exploring ways to transform the 36-acre property into a mixed-income community. Terry Shook, an architect with Shook Kelley and a partner in the ownership group, said the group is examining how to donate its interest in the property to a non-profit that will redevelop the site.

“We’re having a number of conversations with community leaders and faith leaders,” said Shook. The initiative is being called ONEBrookhill. “It’s still just in the early stages, formative stages.”

One challenge: The complicated ownership structure of Brookhill Village. 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 that still runs for 32 years. Shook is affiliated with the ground lease ownership group.

That split structure has closed off many conventional avenues for redevelopment, and will preclude the redevelopment from taking advantage of low-income housing tax credits or bond financing for the project.

Another challenge will be avoiding displacement as redevelopment occurs: Rents range from $350 to $515 at Brookhill Village.

“First and foremost, accommodating existing residents is a big goal,” said Shook. It’s still not clear exactly what the finished product will look like – an exploratory committee is spending the next few months looking at different development models and sources of financing – but Shook said the redeveloped Brookhill Village will include housing that looks the same regardless of the rate people are paying to live there.

For example, part of the development could include “tiny houses” for rent. Shook thinks that would be attractive to young renters nearby who want to move out of South End’s mega-block apartments nearby to a place with a yard, but aren’t interested in buying a house.

“The idea is that it’s the same dwelling type whether you’re paying $315 a month as some people do there now or we’re enticing Millennials from South End,” said Shook.

One potential problem that’s no longer an issue: The federal government in December dropped a plan to seize the property over allegations of drug and violent criminal activity after Brookhill Village Two agreed to demolish or renovate the run-down apartments.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo