New affordable housing complex planned in First Ward involving Little Rock AME Zion Church

New affordable housing complex planned in First Ward involving Little Rock AME Zion Church
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A 105-unit apartment complex is planned for 7th and Alexander streets in First Ward, with the aim to add affordable housing in Uptown.

Behind the project is Laurel Street, a local residential real estate developer, and Little Rock Community Development Corporation (CDC), a nonprofit formed by Little Rock AME Zion Church and led by senior pastor Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker.

The plan, the two groups said in a statement, is to start construction early next year. The first wave of residents will be able to move in sometime in 2022.

The city of Charlotte and Little Rock AME Zion Church are donating land for the project. Laurel Street had the site rezoned last year. Currently, two little white shotgun-style houses sit on the 0.8-acre site. They were moved from their original location at Bland and Ninth streets in 1985, and recently dedicated as historic landmarks by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. They’re the “best-preserved examples” of the type of shotgun houses that were owned by African-Americans in the mid-20th century, the landmarks commission wrote.

The developer will move the homes before construction begins, a spokeswoman for the project says.

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The two historic shotgun homes at 7th and Alexander will be relocated (Google Earth)

The two historic shotgun homes at 7th and Alexander will be relocated (Google Earth)

Roughly half of the project (50 units) will be income-restricted, intended for a mix of incomes.

Twenty units will be for individuals who make up to 30 percent area median income (AMI). That’s about $25,050 for a family of four. (Here’s the full 2020 AMI chart from the city). Another 20 will be for those who make up to 60 percent AMI, and the remaining 10 will be for those who make up to 80 percent AMI. 

The remaining 55 units will be market rate, the groups behind the project say.

Laurel Street and Little Rock CDC’s project announcement comes as the city continues to grapple with a shortage of affordable housing. The city has reported it lacks about 34,000 affordable housing units.

Earlier this month, Roof Above announced it purchased a 341-unit apartment complex in east Charlotte. The local nonprofit plans to set aside 75 apartments for those who are experiencing long-term homelessness. And last month, the local nonprofit Heal Charlotte kicked off a capital campaign to raise $10 million to buy a hotel to turn into a campus with affordable housing.

Here are some other notes about the 7th and Alexander project:

  • The church will share its parking lot with the apartments, a move intended to reduce the number of new parking spaces for the development.
  • It’ll be U-shaped, with a courtyard for outdoor activities, a fire pit, and grills.
  • Inside, it’ll have a fitness room, lounge, café, business center, and two elevators.
  • It will be National Green Building Standards (‘NGBS’) certified.

“This new community is the culmination of a long-term dream to combine the resources of the Little Rock AME Zion Church with land owned by the City of Charlotte to further the mission of both the CDC and the Church to serve the families and individuals of First Ward and the surrounding neighborhoods,” Walker said.


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