BREAKING: Affordable housing proposed for Ballantyne

Northwood Office shares more details on its massive town center development behind the Ballantyne hotel

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New details on Ballantyne ‘town center’: grocery store, more apartments and … affordable housing

The developer planning a massive town center in the heart of Ballantyne has expanded its plans, adding apartments in its first phase as well as a grocery store and – get this – affordable housing.

Northwood Office, which owns the Ballantyne hotel and the office park, announced in June that it wants to turn part of the golf course behind the hotel into a mix of apartments, retail shops and restaurants. It would also add an amphitheater and green space in the 25-acre development, which it is referring to as “Ballantyne Reimagined.”

At the time, reaction in the community was mixed. Some said an urban-style development is needed to attract young workers and keep up with other parts of Charlotte. Other residents worried about increasing traffic.

On Monday, Northwood said it has filed a rezoning petition with the city on a 455-acre tract. Northwood disclosed new details, including plans for:

  • 1,200 multifamily units in the first phase. The company had originally said there would be 1,000. 

  • 300,000 s.f. of “retail/restaurant/grocery.” That’s up from the 150,000 s.f. of retail originally announced. The addition of a grocery store is new. The plan envisions a possible grocery store along North Community House Road.

Northwood Office is expanding its vision for a town center in Ballantyne by adding apartments, grocery and affordable housing.

Brace yourself: The affordable housing component might attract the most attention of the additions. Northwood’s plans call for 8% of the 1,200 units in the first phase to be set aside as affordable housing. The rents in those 96 units will be set to appeal to people making 80% of the area’s median income.

Trend: In Charlotte, developers are increasingly including plans for affordable housing in their rezoning applications because they know the issue is important to city leaders. Sometimes, developers’ proposals for affordable housing are expanded in negotiations with city planners, by either increasing the number of affordable units or by decreasing the rents to appeal to a smaller percentage of local median income.

As Charlotte continues to grow, the lack of affordable housing has been a huge issue locally. Ballantyne often comes under criticism for lacking affordable housing. Adding a portion of units that are affordable might help Northwood win approval for its plans, but it could also be another argument for opponents.

A big story produced by a consortium of local media outlets in June singled out Ballantyne as “an affordable housing desert.”

The story observed:

the Ballantyne community has a mix of housing styles, including apartments and townhomes, but median prices – and incomes – exceed the county average. In 2016, the median household income in Ballantyne was about $100,000, compared with $59,000 for the county. Less than 10 percent of its residents were black, compared with a county total of more than 30 percent.

Phase II: A second phase of the development would add an additional 1,000 multifamily units – including 8 percent set aside as affordable housing, or 80 units – plus 400,000 s.f. of office space and 300 town homes.

Northwood’s rezoning requires approval from the City Council, which would probably be asked to approve the change in September or October. If all goes according to plan, construction on the first phase would start in 2020 and take five to six years. The second phase would be six to 12 years down the line, the company said.

All the information on the changes comes from Northwood. The Ledger requested the rezoning application from the city early last week, but the city has declined to release it. 

Northwood is planning a community meeting on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Ballantyne hotel.

Here’s the fact sheet the company is circulating:

That’s all for now. More on Wednesday.

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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

The Charlotte Ledger is published by Tony Mecia, an award-winning former Charlotte Observer business reporter and editor. He lives in Charlotte with his wife and three children.