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Plaza-Midwood to propose mile-long drinking district
Plus: Almost all Mecklenburg retirement communities are financially stable; Historic school preps for new home; Hot Piper Glen rezoning meeting; Fatal police shooting in South End
Good morning! Today is Monday, August 21, 2023. You’re reading The Charlotte Ledger, an e-newsletter with local business-y news and insights for Charlotte, N.C.
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Neighborhood plans to submit Charlotte’s first application for a social district this week; ‘Quality of life’ issue
Bikers at The Thirsty Beaver in Plaza-Midwood could soon walk with drinks in hand up and down Central Avenue. The neighborhood expects to be the first to submit a formal application to the city, later this week.
by Tony Mecia
Leaders of the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood say they plan to submit a formal petition to the city this week to create Charlotte’s first social district, a place where drinkers could walk legally with open containers of alcohol.
Backers say the filing should set in motion a process that would include a public hearing in front of the City Council in September and, they hope, quick approval that would allow on-the-sidewalk drinking by winter.
“We think of it as a quality of life improvement — a way to adjust the law to current, existing human behavior,” says Russell Fergusson, who serves on the board of the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association. “We don’t expect it to result in additional alcohol sales. It’s more a freedom to walk and take it on the road.”
It’s been nearly two years since the state legislature changed the law to allow municipalities to create such districts, and there are now more than 30 statewide — in other cities and towns. Charlotte has put into place a 15-step process that requires businesses or neighborhood groups to obtain signatures of more than half the owners of parcels in the district, submit “signage” and “management and maintenance” plans, hold community meetings, provide letters of support and turn in both a “pre-application” and an “application.”
Submitting an application is step No. 9 in the process.
Plaza-Midwood’s proposed district would stretch about a mile along Central Avenue, from Two Scoops Creamery through The Thirsty Beaver and the train tracks into the main business district and ending at Morningside Drive. It would also stretch toward Independence Boulevard along streets including Pecan Avenue, Thomas Avenue and The Plaza, as well as contain several parcels on the Elizabeth/Chantilly side of Independence including Cheat’s Cheesesteak Parlor.
“We think it makes sense to start with the biggest reasonable scope,” Fergusson said.
Other cities have districts that are even bigger. One in Durham, for instance, stretches for 1.5 miles and contains most of the city’s downtown.
The plan has the support of neighborhood groups in Plaza-Midwood, Chantilly and Morningside, he said.
Plaza-Midwood leaders are also working with the Innovation Barn on a plan to have the to-go beverages be served in reusable metal cups to cut down on waste.
Other spots, too: Plaza-Midwood is one of several neighborhoods that has expressed interest in forming a social district. Others include NoDa, uptown, South End and the area south of South End known as “LoSo.”
Related Ledger article:
“Coming soon to Charlotte: ‘social districts’ where open alcohol containers are allowed?” (🔒, Sept. 10, 2021)
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How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:
Aldersgate update: The good news is that auditors are satisfied with the finances of 10 out of 11 Mecklenburg retirement communities
One irony, a reader told us, is that when you apply to one of these retirement communities, they take a close look at your finances — but who is examining their finances?
As it turns out — and this was news to us, until we received the tip on Aldersgate last week and started digging into it — audited financial statements of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs, also sometimes called life plan communities) are available online. Those businesses are regulated by the N.C. Department of Insurance and file annual disclosure statements that include troves of fascinating and detailed information, including fees, leadership and policies on everything from pets to what happens if a resident gets married.
The Department of Insurance has the disclosure statements of 66 CCRCs on its website.
Over the weekend, we looked at the disclosures of the 11 CCRCs in Mecklenburg. Aldersgate is the only one in which auditors expressed worries about insolvency.
In the financial reports, eight out of the other 10 reported operating losses in 2022. That’s not necessarily a problem: They appear to have adequate reserves, so operating losses one year can be offset by operating profits another year.
What seems to set Aldersgate apart is its string of operating losses, the size of its most recent one, inadequate reserves and having liabilities greater than its assets, according to the auditor’s report contained in the disclosure statement filed with state regulators.
Its auditor’s report, by CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, noted Aldersgate’s large operating loss and liabilities exceeding assets and said: “Those factors, as well as conditions that Aldersgate has faced related to meeting certain financial debt covenant requirements, create uncertainty about Aldersgate’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
Functioning as a “going concern” is accountant lingo for being stable enough financially to pay your bills. A “going concern” warning like this indicates rocky finances — which could be a prelude to a restructuring or a sale. Or maybe Aldersgate’s management rights the ship by implementing its corrective action plan that we mentioned Friday, under regulators’ supervision. We don’t know, and maybe nobody knows how this will play out.
No reply: We have reached out to Aldersgate. But unfortunately, its management hasn’t responded, even after our article was published Friday, so we are unable to share its perspective with you. We’re hopeful they will answer some of our questions about its future.
The Ledger will stay on this story as it develops, whether other media start looking into it or not (so far … not).
In the meantime, if you want to check out the financial and other details of Mecklenburg retirement communities, you can do that here:
Related Ledger article:
“State says Aldersgate is potentially ‘insolvent’” (🔒, Aug. 18)
A historic school gets ready for a new home
Workers last week started the process of moving the Siloam School in University City to its new permanent home at the Charlotte Museum of History in east Charlotte. The Siloam School was built in the 1920s as a rural primary school for Black students and is a “rare surviving example of the institutions built during the Jim Crow era,” according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. The Charlotte Museum of History raised $1.2M to move and restore the school building. Axios Charlotte looked more extensively at the project last week. (Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Museum of History)
Testy Piper Glen rezoning meeting: Neighbors still opposed to Rea Road project after developer slashes number of apartments
The developer proposing a controversial residential project in the Piper Glen area of south Charlotte has cut the number of units by 40%, but many neighbors still oppose the plans.
Last year, developer RK Investments had proposed 1,100 housing units on a wooded 53-acre site between Elm Lane and Rea Road just south of the Four Mile Creek Greenway. (That’s also near the shopping center with the Trader Joe’s.)
Neighbors objected, big-time. They started a petition called “Save the Eagles — Request Charlotte City Council Vote NO on Rea Road Rezoning” that now has more than 11,000 signatures, which cited concerns about traffic and neighborhood character and added:
The wildlife in this area includes beavers, coyotes, an abundance of deer, raccoons, opossums, hawks and owls large and small, who have adapted to the incursion of suburbia admirably. The 18 acres of wetlands immediately adjacent to the property that often serves as a rookery to both Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons would be adversely impacted by the hardscape surface water runoff.
Now, RK Investments has reworked its plan and is proposing 640 units, with 500 apartments and the remainder a mix of single-family houses and townhomes.
At a community meeting last week, though, residents said they remained opposed to the project. A meeting Thursday drew more than 200 people, and a few had to be turned away because the room was at capacity, City Council member Ed Driggs told us.
“It’s fair to say that the sentiment in the room was overwhelmingly negative about the rezoning,” Driggs said. He said people were “well-behaved” and that the meeting was “orderly.”
(Heated south Charlotte rezoning community meetings are usually catnip to Ledger reporters, but with the City Council candidate reception we co-sponsored Thursday at the same time as the meeting, none of our three full-timers could make it.)
Driggs said the developer’s latest proposal is getting closer to the sorts of projects the City Council has approved.
“It is not as far beyond our normal terms of reference as it was before,” he said. “We still have an issue with the fact that residents in a large area are adamantly opposed to this. We need to see if there’s a way to deal with that.”
Under the city’s new development ordinance, Driggs said, it’s unclear how many units could be built without a rezoning.
He said there will be more community meetings about the proposal. If Thursday’s is any guide, expect to hear more about the wildlife.
“Someone would make a fiery statement about the eagles, and everybody clapped and cheered,” Driggs said. —TM
You might be interested in these Charlotte events: Entrepreneurship panel, swim clinic
Events submitted by readers to The Ledger’s events board:
WEDNESDAY: Eat the Elephant: An Entrepreneurship Panel, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Betty by Moxie Mercantile, 1219 Thomas Ave., Charlotte. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! This series was created to share how local entrepreneurs tackled obstacles during the beginning phases of their work and still overcome them at different stages of our growth. Learn and share with us as we approach topics that any small business can take something away from. Bring your questions from finances to customer engagement and everything in between. $35.
SATURDAY: Flip Turn Swim Clinic!, 9-10:30 a.m., West Charlotte High School, 2219 Senior Drive. This class will teach beginner to intermediate adult swimmers the basics of competitive turns. Class size is limited to 20 participants, so claim your slot now! $50.
Police shooting in South End: A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer shot and killed a man who stabbed a fellow officer during a struggle at The Penrose apartments on Tremont Avenue in South End, police said. Police were responding to a domestic disturbance call at the luxury apartments at about 8 a.m. Sunday and forced their way in after hearing gunshots. The officer and the woman involved in the domestic call were taken to the hospital. (CMPD on X/Twitter)
Housing supply still tight, prices rise: The number of homes sold and listed for sale in July in the Charlotte region continued to be lower than a year earlier. In Mecklenburg, closings were down 23%, and new listings were down 35%. The tight supply boosted the median sales price by 6%, to $440,000. (Canopy Realtor Association)
School board policy votes: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education will vote Tuesday on policy changes that would bring the district in line with a new “parents’ bill of rights” law passed in Raleigh. The policies involve areas including sex education, student health and advising parents if their student wishes to use a different name or pronoun. (WFAE)
Court records go online: The state agency that oversees court records says that beginning Oct. 9, paperwork for legal cases in Mecklenburg can be viewed and filed online for the first time. A rollout earlier this year in the Triangle was plagued with glitches. (WFAE)
Three children killed in Concord house fire: Three siblings, ages 11, 15 and 16, died in a house fire in Concord at 1 a.m. Sunday. Parents were not at home at the time. (WBTV)
No LGBTQ award: Charlotte Pride backed off of presenting its Harvey Milk Award for exceptional leadership in the LGBTQ community after media reports noted that the intended recipient is a registered sex offender. (WBT’s Brett Jensen, WSOC)
Lake safety briefings required: New regulations were adopted last week that are intended to cut down on drownings in Lake Norman. The new rules, which take effect Jan. 1, will require businesses renting boats to provide safety briefings. (Observer)
‘Nonbinary’ division in Charlotte race: The “Around the Crown 10K” on Sept. 3 will feature a nonbinary division for the first time, with prizes equal to those in the male and female divisions. About 6,000 runners are expected, and eight so far have registered as nonbinary. Prize money for the top five finishers ranges from $100 to $300. (Observer)
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Staff writer: Lindsey Banks; Business manager: Brie Chrisman, BC Creative