Jason Puckett 00:00
This is the Centra Square Apartments development in Charlotte’s Belmont neighborhood. And at first glance it looks like a typical housing complex. They have apartments combined with townhouses. And amenities, like large recreation rooms, outdoor entertainment spaces, and even elevators.
Lee Cochran 00:14
The fit, the finishes, all of that is designed to be essentially the same as what they make and in the market price world.
Jason Puckett 00:20
But if we dig a little deeper, we’ll see a few things that make this resort special.
Lee Cochran 00:25
Units rent for between $550 and $950 a month. On top of that, over 10% of the units here have people living in them who have rental assistance that actually helped them pay even more for those units.
Jason Puckett 00:39
A one-bedroom apartment in Centra Square costs between $575 and $675. By comparison, nearby apartments cost between $1,200 and $1,600 a month. Townhouses either don’t exist or cost between $1,800 and $2,600 a month, or as Lee Cochran of developer Laurel Street put it:
Lee Cochran 00:56
Rents for units like this, in other parts of Charlotte, or even in this neighborhood, would cost at least double, if not triple, in some cases.
Jason Puckett 01:05
So what makes Centra Square so much more affordable than surrounding developments? Well, part of it is because of who owns the land.
Rev. Dr. Robert C Scott 01:13
I’m glad we can do something to help the city of Charlotte when it comes to our housing shortage.
Jason Puckett 01:19
Senior Pastor Robert C. Scott and St. Paul Baptist Church leaders noticed a sharp increase in home prices in the neighborhood.
Rev. Dr. Robert C Scott 01:26
It’s crazy that in the neighborhood where my church is located, probably 10 or 15 years ago, a small two or three bedroom house that normally went for $90,000 to maybe $110,000 is now selling for $290,000. and $350,000.
Jason Puckett 01:46
The church decided they needed to help.
Rev. Dr. Robert C Scott 01:49
The beginning of the process was initiated by my predecessor, the Reverend Dr. Greg Moss. And as our neighborhood was starting to gentrify, he decided that St. Paul is really an anchor in this community. And so he wanted to do something that helps us be able to manage in this community in a more tangible way.
Jason Puckett 02:10
They broke ground in 2016, working with developer Laurel Street to convert the church’s additional land parking lots into 112 affordable housing units in the heart of the Belmont neighborhood. When
Rev. Dr. Robert C Scott 02:21
When I came to the city in October 2016, Charlotte had a housing deficit of nearly 30,000 units, which is simply staggering. So our 112 units are really a drop in the bucket. But I believe that our ability to give up our land, which was a sacrifice, to provide housing for at least 112 families is worth it.
Jason Puckett 02:52
The church of San Pablo contributes its lands. The developer, Laurel Street, worked with them to make the property a reality. And the last step is the City of Charlotte Housing Trust Fund, or HTF. Established in 2001, the trust fund uses voter-approved housing bonds to support affordable housing and shelter options throughout the city. Over the past 20 years, HTF has provided more than $230 million to fund local development, organizations and more. And that has resulted in the creation and preservation of nearly 11,000 units of affordable housing in the city. Centra Square is the perfect example of HTF’s work in action with multiple local partners.
Lee Cochran 03:31
In this case, the lead partners, Laurel Street, we’re the developer, St. Paul’s Baptist Church, made the land available in a great neighborhood. And then we also had the City of Charlotte Housing Trust Fund, which we couldn’t have built without the Housing Trust Fund investment.
Rev. Dr. Robert C Scott 03:46
Of course, the city, by providing tax credits and funding to make this a reality, we couldn’t have done it without them. Of course, we know that Bank of America, the developers who put up some funding, we broke the ground, but we couldn’t have done it without the city. It was just a wonderful collaboration. And I would say it was really providential and how well it came together.
Jason Puckett 04:10
So Centra Square is an example of how the city and the Housing Trust Fund have worked to bring more affordable housing options to the area. Faith-based partnerships like this are just one of the few ways we will discuss in the coming months. Now, if you want to learn more about Centra Square, visit their website at this link, where you can learn more about the Housing Trust Fund at Charlottenc.gov.