CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte city councilwoman is speaking out saying if it were up to her, she would put a temporary halt on apartment building, as thousands of units continue to go up across the city.
LaWana Mayfield who represents district 3 and who also serves as chair of the city’s housing and development committee says the apartments are going up so fast, it’s changing the character of our city and not for the better.
“I can’t legally, but if I had the ability I would just put a moratorium on apartment building to just slow down,” says Mayfield.
This year alone, Uptown will see the addition of roughly 2,000 units. Another 1,600 are under construction between Elizabeth, Plaza Midwood and NoDa. In SouthEnd, 2,000 units have been built this year, with 2,500 currently proposed.
According to Real Data, a Charlotte-based research company which tracks apartment data across the southeast, Charlotte is seeing record high demands for apartment living, with only a 5.9 percent vacancy rating.
Charles Dalton, the company’s president, told NBC Charlotte the demand comes as more people see renting as a better, safer alternative to home-buying after many suffered losses during the housing crash. Another contributing factor – Charlotte’s influx of millennial’s, a demographic who likes to live centrally, says Dalton.
But councilwoman Mayfield says that because developers are moving so fast to keep up with demand, many apartment buildings are going up on land once zoned for homes and businesses. She says they’re also going up so fast, architectural creativity is being lost.
“We’re losing it with what is coming up out of the ground. It is this cookie cutter look,” says Mayfield.
But when it comes to regulating development within the city, Mayfield says the city has limited control, saying most of the control lies at the state level.
“There was a time when council had the ability to find out, what materials are you using, what’s the design going to look like, show us the elevation. There’s now a challenge in your elected body being able to ask questions,” says Mayfield.
She says within the last five years state officials have changed laws, giving more freedom to developers.
“When you have a general assembly that creates language that becomes legislation based on their donor support…based on the business support they’ve received from those donors, that makes it difficult for us to govern best for the city of Charlotte,” says Mayfield.
Mayfield also says the influx of apartments are proving to be a big loss for the city’s character, as many of the apartments have been built where affordable housing once was, forcing many native Charlotteans out of the city.
“We’re no longer going to have $350/month rents, we know that – but does that mean we should jump to $900? There’s no middle ground with$600 to $700 hundred dollar rents?” says Mayfield.
According to Real Data the average monthly rent in Charlotte is $1,052. Affordable housing, as defined by the federal government is defined as a person not spending more than 30 percent of household income, including utilities on housing.
According to Real Data, less than 100 affordable units have been built his year out of the thousands that have gone up.
Asked what the solution is, Mayfield says, “Your vote”, by voting out those state representatives who give all the control to developers.
Copyright 2016 WCNC