Charlotte’s first car-free apartments are well underway in Optimist Park

Charlotte’s first car-free apartments are well underway in Optimist Park
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As the city debated over a car-free development in west Charlotte last year, another developer was quietly building a similar project in Optimist Park.

Flashback: After hours of public comments last fall, City Council approved a rezoning for a carless apartment complex in west Charlotte. The plan caused a stir, as many neighbors worried residents without parking spots would wind up parking on side streets.

  • Eliminating parking, developer Grubb Properties said, would be a cost-saver, making rents lower for tenants.
  • Residents have to agree in their leases not to have cars. Grubb has said they’ll evict them if they break that contract.

Grubb and other proponents touted the 104-unit Seversville complex as the first car-free residential development in town.

Except, it wasn’t the first.

Over in Optimist Park, construction has been underway for months on a six-story apartment building across from the light rail. Called The Joinery, the property will have 83 units, 2,000 square feet of retail space and no structured parking.

This is the first Charlotte project for the firm Space Craft, formerly called Cohab, which is co-developing it along with the construction company Swinerton. The architect on the project is Shook Kelley. Its exact address is 1824 N. Brevard, near 22nd Street.

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Why it matters: Charlotte is a sprawling, traditionally car-centric city. Efforts to wean residents away from cars underscore how the city is becoming denser, especially in walkable neighborhoods with nearby transit like the light rail.

Driving the news: The Joinery is just the latest in a deliberate push to make Charlotte more walkable.

  • Grubb is also developing a mixed-use complex in NoDa (the former Herrin Ice site) that’ll have a scaled-down parking setup. Apartment renters and the daytime office work crowd will share parking spaces.
  • And last year, Charlotte marked off 2.5 miles of city streets to encourage more pedestrian use as part of its Shared Streets pilot program.

Construction at The Joinery in Optimist Park. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Elsewhere in the U.S., residential developments with minimal or no onsite parking are popping up in cities like Minneapolis, Austin and Tempe, Arizona, as the New York Times reported last fall.

About The Joinery: The area was already zoned for transit-oriented development as part of a sweeping policy change the city adopted in 2019 to encourage density in transit corridors. That’s why the developer didn’t have to go through the rezoning process like Grubb did in Seversville.

  • “Optimist Park, because of TOD, has seen so much multi-family investment that we thought the area made sense for a more urban product,” Mohit Shewaramani, director of operations for Space Craft, tells me.

“Charlotte does a nice job of looking out for neighbors’ interests as well as working with developers,” Shewaramani adds.

Space Craft is calling the development “Charlotte’s first multi-modal building.” That means it will offer residents a range of transportation options, including electric bikes and scooters to rent, walkability, access to the light rail (the Parkwood light-rail station is a 3-minute walk), and electric cars including Teslas available to rent.

  • City planning director Taiwo Jaiyeoba has said that Charlotte is never going to eliminate the automobile. “But if we can reduce the use of it substantially, it frees people up in terms of the economic advantages.”

Details: The Joinery will offer studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

  • Amenities include an outdoor courtyard with grills and green space.
  • It’ll also have an agreement with an off-site parking garage to provide “competitive rates” for residents who want to keep their car nearby.
  • Leasing will begin in late fall, and it’ll open early 2022.

Sustainability: Space Craft aims to make the development Charlotte’s “most sustainable building,” Shewaramani says. For instance, the plan is to offer residents the option to compost their organic waste and to eventually install solar panels onsite.

Cost: Like the Grubb property, Space Craft plans to pass down the cost-savings from not having a parking garage to residents. Shewaramani wouldn’t give an exact figure, but one-bedroom apartments in Optimist Park typically rent for $1,100 to $1,400 a month.

Here’s what The Joinery will look like. Renderings are by Shook Kelley and courtesy of Space Craft:

The Joinery optimist park

The Joinery on Brevard

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