Charlotte neighborhood is looking for a way to avoid gentrification
McCrorey Heights could be rezoned to help the cause.
CHARLOTTE, NC — If approved, the city of Charlotte could soon have its 8th Historic District.
McCrorey Heights is a historically black neighborhood located just north of Johnson C. Smith University. People there are pushing to protect their homes from new construction and developments that they believe go against the character of their neighborhood.
You can find rezoning petition notices in McCrorey Heights as residents fight to protect their neighborhood’s traditions, heritage and history.
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“It’s just a nice neighborhood. I love the ranch style homes here. Everyone knew each other and there were great role models,” said resident George Moreland, nearly 50 years old.
Red brick houses fill the streets of the community. It was founded by Dr. HL McCrorey, a prominent African American man who served as the fifth and longest serving President of JCSU from 1907 to 1947.
“One of the things he wanted to do is create his own African-American community built around the university, maybe for the professors to live on and that appeals to the black middle class,” said Brandon Lunsford, archivist. from the university library.
“I graduated from John C. Smith University — imagine you go to college and the president of your university lives two houses away from you,” Moreland said. “Just imagine that.”
The neighborhood is home to prominent black professionals, civil rights activists, and church leaders.
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“They were black doctors, black dentists, lawyers, many school principals, several teachers and ministers – they were self-taught,” Lunsford said.
Neighbors say McCrorey Heights is the definition of “it takes a village,” where Moreland said everyone is looking out for each other.
“We grew up in a time when it was okay for kids to cut in the yard. You could see a neighbor talking to you and saying “how are you,” Moreland said. “If you did something inappropriate, they would have no problem telling you it’s not the right way.”
Dozens of residents have called for the neighborhood to be designated a historic district to protect its architectural style from gentrification and increased development.
“As investors came in, they would take a ranch-style house in the neighborhood and tear it down,” Moreland said, “and then come back with something very contemporary that’s just out of place for the neighborhood. “
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If historic designation is approved, homeowners will need to obtain permission from the city’s Historic District Commission for any alterations to a home’s exterior, for new construction, or to demolish a home.
It’s a rezoning initiative Charlotte City Councilman Malcolm Graham said he could get behind it.
“We understand the impact of gentrification,” Graham said. “This type of designation, while not full protection, protects the housing stock in the area to ensure that everything remains the same and consistent since the first home was built.”
The end goal: to protect a legacy that Moreland hopes will be cherished by future generations.
“It’s important that we keep these homes so the wealth can be passed on to our children and our families,” Moreland said.
The city council is expected to make its final decision on August 15.