Does this new development herald ‘gentrification’ just north of uptown?

The vacant site on 24th Street
The vacant site on 24th Street

A plan to build hundreds of new apartments on the site of what was once the Tryon Hills apartments stirred worries at Charlotte City Council on Monday about a potential new wave of gentrification building north of uptown.

Todd Jackovich, a Nashville-based developer and head of Stonehenge Real Estate Group, is seeking to build about 300 new apartments on a vacant site between 24th and 26th streets, along both sides of North Pine Street. It’s just south of the Charlotte Housing Authority-owned Dillehay Courts development, in an area poised on the precipice of major change: Charlotte’s North End.

Nearby, New York-based ATCO is pushing ahead with plans to redevelop about a million square feet of disused industrial space into apartments, shops, art space, restaurants, a hotel and offices. Other new developments nearby, including a new bakery, butcher shop and brewery by Heist, are also in the works.

The hope planners have, ultimately, is that the area could become the next NoDa, or draw development on the scale of South End.

Is this the beginning of it?

Greg Phipps, Charlotte City Council

Most of the questions at Monday’s zoning hearing on the apartments focused on the usual issues, such as what impact the estimated 2,060 daily vehicle trips staff believes the new apartments would generate and what kind of single-family houses the developer would build next to the apartments, on Catalina Avenue. The 11.4-acre site is currently vacant, since the Tryon Hills apartments were demolished.

A representative of the nearby Graham Heights Neighborhood Association said neighbors are excited to see new development come to the area. Charlotte planning staff are recommending that City Council vote to approve the proposal.

Then, council member Greg Phipps asked what effect the rezoning would have on the surrounding neighborhood, which includes some historically lower-income areas.

Phipps mused: “Is this the opening salvo” of gentrification and displacement? “Is this the beginning of it?”

Keith MacVean, a land use attorney representing the developers, said he couldn’t predict the whole area’s future trajectory, but said the development would be a “shot in the arm” for the North End.

“Whether it leads to gentrification is hard to say,” said MacVean.

City Council members closed the hearing without finding an answer to their question. They’ll likely vote on the plan at their meeting next month. But the question lingered over the hearings that followed Monday night.

“What happens when we start gentrification in certain neighborhoods?” City Council member Vi Lyles asked, referring to the Stonehenge development during a later hearing. “We as a group have struggled with this...We’ve got to pay attention to what’s happening in our community.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo