What are the greatest risks facing the Smithville community over the next five years?
Smithville is facing four major threats to its existence: (1) A rapidly aging population where most descendants do not live in Smithville or Cornelius, (2) Relatively low land values due to isolation and blight will fuel outside investor purchases. (3) A very marketable location given the traffic problems in the area, and, (4) Introduction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stop at Exit 28 and Catawba will fuel land/home purchases within walking distance to the pro- posed bus stop.
Recognized need for more affordable (workforce) housing in North Mecklenburg County
In late January of 2019, a report was published by the Urban Institute at University of North Carolina at Charlotte on the 2018 state of affordable housing in North Mecklenburg County. That report (click Here) was commissioned by the Lake Norman Economic Development Board and funded by the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville. It clearly recommends more affordable houses are need in all three towns to support local jobs in government, education and the service industry. It mentions Smithville as a potential site for units, which are included in our revitalization plan.
Goals of the Plan
The revitalization program attempts to address four key objectives: (1) Eliminate displacement of current primarily low-income residents of Smithville, (2) Eliminate blight and create value for the remaining home- owners in Smithville, (3) Connect Smithville to the town of Cornelius, and, (4) Reposition Smithville as an emerging mixed-income, mixed-tenure, and multi-ethnic neighborhood of the future, primarily occupied by house- holds making less than 80% of the AMI.
Neighborhood Goals for 2021
Our goals revolve around four outcomes we are working toward. First, we want to continue to enhance the quality of life for the low-income residents of Smithville. Second, we want to provide the resources for residents to clear ownership conflicts in their homes. Third, get the Town to address conditions that could force the relocation of affected households. Fourth, have the revitalization program approved in the community and voted on by the Town commissioners.We expect to return to Mecklenburg County for land acquisition and infra- structure funding in the FY 2022 budget cycle.
The “Target Area” for revitalization covers approximately 60 parcels on 30 acres of vacant land or homes. This plan is projected to happen in phases over 7-10 years. This plan, with community approval, will be submitted to the Board of Commissioners to become the new Land Use Plan for the community.
Seven Revitalization Guiding Principles
1. No residents in currently occupied homes will be displaced.
2. The new “Smithville” will honor its heritage as a historically African-American neighborhood.
3. Seniors who own their homes can continue to live in them until they are ready to sell at some point in the future.
4. Redevelopment will be limited to blighted sections of Smithville, those with empty land and empty buildings.
5. New development should be done in such a way that current residents will not be displaced by escalating real estate taxes.
6. New development in Smithville will be mixed income and mixed tenure, covering the spectrum from 30% of AMI to 120% of AMI, with the majority of new development targeting incomes below 80% of AMI.
7. Less than 5 currently occupied homes may need to be purchased to provide street up- grades. but those households will be able to remain in Smithville and be compensated .
Check out the evolution of our plans based on increasing details from engineering studies and our community feedback to date.