Politics & Government

Charlotte mayor casts deciding vote to reject senior low-income apartments

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts cast the deciding vote Monday against a proposed low-income apartment complex for seniors on Harrisburg Road, saying the project wouldn’t succeed without the full support of the city.

The City Council was deciding whether to award a $1.32 million grant from the Housing Trust Fund for the Cedarwood Apartments, which would have 66 units for seniors. The total cost of the project was estimated to be $8.4 million.

Council members were tied 5-5 on whether to support the project. Those who opposed the project said there are already too many low-income apartments nearby, and the project should be built in a more affluent part of Charlotte.

“There has been strong opposition from the community,” said council member John Autry, who represents the area.

At-large council member Vi Lyles supported the project.

“We have a goal to build 5,000 affordable housing units,” she said. “A developer does all of this work. What message are we sending?”

The developer, Connelly Development NC, had proposed building subsidized apartments on the site last year. That plan was also rejected by council members, so Connelly refashioned the project as a complex for seniors.

Voting against the Harrisburg Road apartments were Autry, Ed Riggs, Al Austin, Claire Fallon and James Mitchell.

Voting for them were Lyles, Patsy Kinsey, Julie Eiselt, Greg Phipps and Kenny Smith.

The tie meant the mayor would vote. Roberts said she opposed the project because, without “100 percent support” she thought it was unlikely to be funded by the state.

The vote shows the difficulty of building subsidized housing in the city. Residents in areas such as Autry’s District 5 in east Charlotte have said they have too much low-income housing, and have pushed back against getting more. Meanwhile, affluent areas have also opposed new subsidized projects.

Council members voted Monday to support five other projects, including a controversial proposal from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership to build 70 low-income apartments off Weddington Road.

Neighbors mounted intense opposition to the project, though council members approved a rezoning for it in January 2014.

The Weddington Road apartments will receive $3.15 million in Housing Trust Fund money.

Being recommended for city housing dollars doesn’t guarantee a project will be built. Developers will also likely seek state housing credits, and those are difficult to receive.

Last year, the Housing Partnership’s Weddington Road project was recommended for city dollars, but didn’t receive state tax credits.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs