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Affordable housing for families, seniors approved by city council 

A rendering of a project that will bring 120 units to senior citizens in south Charlotte. The construction is a partnership between Aldersgate Retirement Community and Shalom Park.
A rendering of a project that will bring 120 units to senior citizens in south Charlotte. The construction is a partnership between Aldersgate Retirement Community and Shalom Park. Landworks Design Group, PA

Charlotte’s City Council on Monday approved several projects aimed at increasing the number of low-cost places to live in the city.

One plan — for a development called Tryon Homes — will build 188 units of affordable housing at the intersection of North Tryon Street and West Eastway Drive.

The rezoning requires developer The NRP Group, LLC to restrict housing for people earning on average 60% of the area median income. By Charlotte’s median income, that will make apartments available for those making around $44,460 for a family of four.

Around 38 of those homes will be priced for those making 30% of the average income. The project applied for $2 million from the city Housing Trust Fund, the Observer reported.

Space is available for amenities such as a fitness center and a playground, and the complex meets a growing need for affordable housing in the Charlotte city area. A 2018 city study found that Charlotte has a shortage of around 34,000 affordable housing units.

Senior housing

The council also gave the go-ahead to a project that will bring 120 units to senior citizens in south Charlotte. The construction is a partnership between Aldersgate Retirement Community and Shalom Park.

Though the community is open to people of all religions, site planners said in April that approximately 50 percent of residents were expected to be Jewish.

“There is not another Jewish or culturally Jewish retirement community between Richmond and Atlanta,” said Suzanne Pugh, president and CEO of Aldersgate Life Plan Services.

The 17-acre project will be built on the east side of Providence Road next to the existing Temple Israel and the Levine Jewish Community Center. Construction is slated to begin in 2021, with completion planned for 2023.

The retirement home will be on the same cost-restricted basis as the Tryon apartments.

“Affordable is relative,” Pugh said at last month’s hearing. “It’s gonna be affordable for the folks who will be able to live there.”

There will be 120 unassisted units, and 16-24 units of assisted living or memory care living. They’re intended to help ease the need for housing for a growing senior population, a task that City Council member Braxton Winston said the city is “woefully underprepared for.”

Winston’s comments came before he voted in favor of the project. Both passed unanimously.

One community supporter is 93-year-old Irving Bienstock, who is a Holocaust survivor and a WWII U.S. Army veteran. Bienstock has attended the Temple Israel synagogue for 44 years, and first wrote a letter to the city in support of a Jewish-oriented retirement community over 15 years ago.

“I fled alone to Holland to escape Anti-Semitic persecution by the Nazis,” he said last month. “This Jewish-oriented retirement home will be the only home in this county where I will be able to eat a kosher meal.”

Bienstock attended Monday’s meeting along with other supporters who waved green signs encouraging the council to “Rezone Shalom.”

After the vote was taken, Bienstock told the Observer that he felt “amazing.”

“For many, many years I was hoping we would have one,” he said. “And now we will.”

The two projects were among 20 total projects approved, including the Savona Mill redevelopment and a lakefront development on J.W. Clay Boulevard.

Opposition

Some neighbors opposed the plan for the retirement community, with concerns that the surrounding neighborhood won’t be able to handle the impact.

“We have no curbs, we have no gutters, we have no sidewalks. The street in front of my house is just barely 20 feet wide,” Fred Rice, who lives near the planned retirement home, said at last month’s meeting.

Rice said that this project could be better supported in a different location that could handle the influx of people. Other neighbors who spoke at the meeting said that the project should have been delayed for more resident input.

After the vote passed, Rice said that “the neighborhood is very disappointed.”

“I think the Council made a mistake,” he said. “We’re still going to have streets with no gutters and no sidewalks, and with more traffic than before.”

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