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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Charlotte's Elizabeth Community Wealthy Residents vs Low Income Housing (Another Battle?)

Low income housing hoping to move in to Elizabeth

People who build low income housing want to move into Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood.

The proposed development would be right behind a school and next to a park, so neighbors want to make sure the apartments will be a good fit.

Elizabeth is considered one of the Queen City's hidden jewels, and neighbors want to keep it that way.

“It’s pretty much the closest I think you can be to a small town in Charlotte,” said Beth Haenni, the Vice President of the Elizabeth Community Association.

“We have an eclectic neighborhood, smart, and lots of people who are thinking hard about this project and want to know a lot more details about it before we'll blindly support it.”

The new project is low income housing that would be built right near Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School. There’s already a similar complex on North Davidson Street.

“Residents come here, they lease an apartment, they are able to stay as long as they want and we wrap supportive services around them to help them be successful,” said Pam Jefsen with McCreesh Place.

It’s called permanent supportive housing. People at risk for homelessness pay 30 percent of their income to live here and get a one bedroom apartment.

We are very selective about who can come here and live in a community like this one,” Jefsen added.

Jefsen says crime is a non-issue.

NewsChannel 36 checked and found very few calls for service to the facility.

Elizabeth Area Plan Moves Forward

The tree lined streets, the beautiful old homes, the walkability to bars and restaurants. Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood is one of just a few of its kind in the Queen City.

There are many stakeholders, from the residents to the nearby hospitals to the colleges to the businesses. Many have the same goal: growth. "We said we need to take a step back and make sure that we've got an overall picture for the community that we wanna push forward in the next 25 years," says Andy Misiaveg, the president of the Historic Elizabeth Neighborhood Foundation.

This week, the Elizabeth Area Plan was adopted by Charlotte city council. It's been in the works for four years. Its focuses include preserving residential areas close to busy streets and promoting the commercial development of Elizabeth Avenue. That's good news for Mike Dawson, co-owner of Crown Station Coffee House. He says, "A lot of things are directed toward Uptown businesses and it's nice to see them take care of the businesses on the outskirts of the Uptown area."

Independence Park is another important part of the Elizabeth Area Plan. Community leaders want to enhance the green space and protect it. Misiaveg says, "We feel like the park is in a pretty precarious position between the Elizabeth Avenue development, the hospital, CPCC, all encroaching right around the park land."

Leaders will try to secure a historic preservation designation for the park to permanently protect it from development.

Elizabeth Community Association President Monte Ritchey says the entire 25 year plan is a model for other Charlotte neighborhoods, as this area tries to grow responsibly but maintain it's unique identity. He says, "We still tend to get nipped away at year after year at the edges, we lose 2, 3, 4 structures a year."

Another priority in the Elizabeth Area Plan is pedestrian improvements along 7th street, especially after the recent deaths of people trying to cross the busy road. For starters, they want to add more cross walks ASAP.

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Sources:, Fox Charlotte, WCNC, Google Maps

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