Council members debate gentrification at committee meeting

Charlotte City Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield said Thursday she is worried residents north of uptown might be priced out of their homes as the city seeks to link UNC Charlotte and uptown with an “applied innovation corridor.”

Ed McKinney, interim director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department, said $12.5 million in bonds has already been approved and $16.5 million is projected over the next two bond cycles to fund an investment plan for the area.

The plan will update infrastructure to improve transportation and streetscapes and add green space in North End, the area surrounding North Tryon and North Davidson streets and Statesville Avenue. McKinney said the plan includes linking the area more closely to uptown.

At a Thursday meeting of City Council’s Economic Development and Global Competitiveness Committee, Mayfield advised city planners to “take advantage of the lessons learned in South End” as they develop North End.

“As South End is continuing to grow, we are now pricing out a large segment of the community, and the community isn’t as diverse as we once thought,” she said.

Committee member Vi Lyles recommended careful research to make sure workers can afford to live reasonably close to jobs in the city. She pointed out that long commutes also introduce environmental problems.

Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said he hoped the plan would preserve existing neighborhoods and increase housing stock, including affordable housing, so that people can “live, work and play” in close proximity.

Business incentives

Committee members also discussed possible improvements to the Business Investment Grant Program. The Business Advisory Committee prepared a list of suggested improvements, though no vote was taken.

One recommendation involved removing the requirement that incentives are only given to companies who wouldn’t come to Charlotte without them.

Incentives aren’t always big enough to make this realistic, at least as the sole reason for relocation, said Bill Cronin of Neighborhood and Business Services.

Lyles said she knows it’s often inaccurate to say companies relocated solely because of incentives, but she said she wasn’t sure of the best way to update the language.

Committee members did not vote at the meeting.

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