City Council votes to give developer money to fix up mill in NoDa

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte City Council members voted 9-2 Monday night to give a developer more than a million dollars to fix up a property the city sold to it last year.

Two weeks ago, The Community Builders, Inc. came before council members asking for $2.35 million in federal funds allocated to Charlotte for local housing-related improvement projects to be put toward its project at Mecklenburg Mill. But on Monday, the developer amended that request, asking for $1.25 million to help fund the project at the mill.

Hollis Nixon, the NoDa Neighborhood Association's president, was ecstatic.

"Very, very excited," she said. "Glad it's over and I can finally sleep."

TCM bought Mecklenburg and Johnston Mills in 2011 but company officials said once they started work in Mecklenburg Mill, they discovered it was in worse shape than expected.

On Monday night, CEO Rob Fossi said they will make up the difference themselves, through investors, and other savings during construction.

"The term 'YIMBY' was invented in Charlotte tonight, 'yes in my backyard,'" Fossi said.

The project will provide affordable housing. Several NoDa residents took to the podium to talk about how they believe it will improve the area and spur development around the site, which is near a future light rail station.

But not everyone agreed, including some taxpayers and council members.

"Please do not waste more public funds in this bottomless money pit," taxpayer Jay Privette said.

"I'm going to be a no-vote so we're not going to throw more good money after bad," council member Andy Dulin said, "and good luck on the project." 

But Mayor Anthony Foxx said he fully supported giving the funds to TCB, saying it's important Charlotte preserve its history.

"I want council to support this because I think it will be a transformative investment," he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon said he wanted to make it clear this was the last money this project would receive from the city and stated it had to be written into the agreement with the developer.

Fossi said TCB plans to start construction in April of 2013 and hopes to have people living there by July of 2014.