Developers break ground on affordable housing project along light rail extension

Kaleia Martin, a 24-year-old recent graduate with a master’s degree in social work from UNC Chapel Hill, says she has to live with her parents because she cannot find suitable affordable housing, even with a roommate. By

Developers broke ground last week on an affordable housing apartment complex in north Charlotte, as part of a push to provide low-cost housing along the light rail.

NRP Group, an Ohio-based real estate firm, is building and developing the $37 million project, which it says is one of the first affordable multifamily housing communities on the Lynx Blue Line extension. The apartments, called the Platform Lofts, will be adjacent to Old Concord Station, off of North Tryon Street near the Hidden Valley neighborhood. The plans call for 198 units, all of which will be reserved for those making 60% of the median income in Mecklenburg County, or around $44,460 for a family of four.

In its first year, the $1.2 billion light rail extension from uptown to UNC Charlotte has spurred a flurry of development, with some $800 million worth of new projects completed or are underway.

But as the light rail brings a wave of change to the area, it’s also raising prices. A city analysis released last month found that residents in many of the areas north and west of uptown are the most vulnerable to displacement.

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When the first light rail line opened in 2007, areas like South End boomed, and luxury apartments quickly drove up rents. Now, city leaders hope to create opportunities for low-cost housing along the northern extension.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided more than $25 million in loans for the project, and the city kicked in $5.1 million from its Housing Trust Fund for the project. Voters approved $50 million in bond money for the Housing Trust Fund last fall.

“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do in terms of having affordable places for people to live,” said Charles Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “If you don’t have affordable places for people to live in all parts of the city, your economic growth will slow down eventually, because people can’t get to work.”

The plans call for six residential buildings, with two, three and four-bedroom apartments. It will also have amenities like a gym, playground, computer room and indoor children’s play area. The property will have direct access to the Cross Charlotte Trail.

The project is NRP Group’s first affordable housing development in Charlotte. The company also developed Loft 135, on West Morehead Street in South End, and is expected to complete the Parkwood, in Optimist Park, this fall.

The Platform Loft project is expected to be complete in 2020.

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