University City

Historic University City home on West Rocky River Road won’t be spared

The Newell-Neill house at 1412 West Rocky River Road has finally been sold.

The house is located next to the Newell Presbyterian Church at the intersection of West Rocky River Road and Old Concord Road.

Back in May 2012, I wrote about how the organization Preservation North Carolina tried to find a buyer to save the historic structure. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

The dilapidated structure has become more of an eyesore, and there is a pile of debris on the side of the house. If you drive near that part of the University City area, you can’t miss it.

After a bit of research, I learned that in December 2012 the home was sold to a Georgia resident named Imran Ahmah Faroooi. (Although it is listed that way on official tax records, the spelling may be Farooqi.) The $40,000 payment included the house and 2.77 acres.

If you go to, you can see that the building value is listed at $90,900 and the land value is listed as $68,900, which brings the total value to $159,800. The property is zoned as R3, the most restrictive residential zone. In the future, only three houses can be built per acre on that property.

The home will not be restored. On April 19, the new owner obtained a permit to demolish the house. It can be a long and complicated process. The county has it listed under “pre-demolitions review/inspections” right now. County officials will determine whether asbestos or other dangerous products could be exposed in the air.

If the owner does not follow through with the demolition by June 3, he will be required to go before City Council. The owner can ask for up to six 30-day extensions. If the city has to finish the demolition process, it will bill the owner for the work.

The city’s goal is for the structure to be demolished before October. Neighbors hope it will be sooner than later.

The structure was built in 1915. According to a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, it was converted from a cotton gin in 1925. John Newell transformed the building for his daughter Rachel. She married William Neill, and they raised four daughters in the home. In 1964, Rachel Newell Neill sold the house. It has had several owners but has been vacant for more than 10 years now.

The city’s Neighborhood and Business Services Department is working with the county to get the debris outside the house removed. At this point, it is not known what will happen to the property after the house is demolished.

If you have questions or concerns or want to report a housing violation in your neighborhood, call 311, or 704-336-7600. You can also use your smartphone and download the “My Charlotte” app; or go to Inspections can be done by the Neighborhood and Business Services Department. Inspectors enforce minimum housing codes, which are minimum standards for the health and safety of a structure.

Losing a house with a historical value seems like such a waste. But in this economy, it proved impossible to find a buyer willing to make a huge investment to save the structure.

Ted Alexander, western regional director of Preservation North Carolina, said, “Of course we were disappointed with the way things turned out, but the city could not have been more helpful. We gave it our best shot to preserve the house.

“Sometimes you win some; sometimes you lose some.”