As new high-end residential and retail development shifts the cultural landscape of Charlotte, N.C.’s working-class Cherry neighborhood, local housing officials are concerned about the welfare of the community’s oldest residents, many of whom have lived there for decades. The recently completed Cherry Gardens Senior Apartments, a green-built, affordable complex of 42 units, is the first step in redevelopment planned by Charlotte-based Living Gardens LLC that will maintain a variety of affordable housing options in the neighborhood to support those most at risk of displacement by gentrification.
“There was a desire to create affordable senior housing so they could stay in their existing social network as redevelopment started,” says Paul Woollard, executive director of The Affordable Housing Group of North Carolina (TAHG). “This is a means for allowing gentrification while maintaining the social fabric of the neighborhood.”
TAHG’s first eco-friendly project, Cherry Gardens was originally designed for Energy Star for Homes certification but is now slated for LEED-Silver. Lower-than-expected construction bids allowed planners to add sustainable, high-performance features—an extra 7% to 8% in construction costs—while still staying under budget, says TAHG development associate James Royster.