Is Charlotte ready for a car-free development? Proposed apartment project draws mixed response

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A multifamily project by Charlotte developer Grubb Properties in the Seversville neighborhood would include dozens of workforce housing units without any public investment — but lease terms would ban tenants from owning cars.

The proposal calls for 104 apartments with only six parking spaces at a 0.7-acre site on State Street and Katonah Avenue. All tenants at the proposed five-story development would be required to sign a waiver as part of their lease agreement saying they do not own a car, and will not purchase one, as long as they live at the community.

Fifty percent of the development, or 52 units, would be reserved for tenants earning 80% of the area median income. Because of the savings from not developing parking that costs about $30,000 per space, Grubb would not require subsidy to include those workforce units.

“By the time we deliver this, we’re likely to have autonomous cars,” said Clay Grubb, CEO of Grubb Properties, at Monday night’s Charlotte City Council zoning meeting. “The world is changing quickly. If we want to attract the young folks and the talent that we hope to, we’ve got to have housing they can afford to live in and they’ve got to be able to have options.”

Grubb has long been a proponent of dialing back on parking — an expensive, but still widely considered vital, aspect of commercial developments — in its projects. In fact, Grubb said Monday, the firm is now regularly building apartment communities that have a parking ratio of less than one parking space per unit. Its planned development on Mint Street would have a parking ratio of 0.6 space per unit.

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