Activists Call for Changes to Controversial “Brooklyn Village” Development

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Local activists are calling for changes to a project that will transform Charlotte’s second ward.

“Brooklyn Village” will bring shops, office space, and apartments to land once home to a large African-American community.

“It’s not going to be affordable to African-Americans, they won’t be able to afford to rent there,” says Willie J. Keaton with the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice.

Keaton is helping lead a coalition demanding the changes.

The development will replace 11-acres covering Marshall Park and the old education center building. Another phase will replace the six-acre Walton Plaza.

The name “Brooklyn” is a throwback to the African-American community that once stood there.

“It was a major center African-American culture, history, vitality, energy,” explains Dan Morrill, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

Morrill says “Brooklyn” was torn down in the 1960’s in the name of urban renewal.

“It was just erased, in the name of progress,” he says.

One of the reasons coalition leaders are concerned is because the new development will only have 10 percent affordable housing.

Overall plans call for 1,200 residential units, 250,000 sq. feet of retail, 700,000 sq. feet of office space, and 300 hotel rooms.

Keaton says African-Americans need more opportunities to live, work, and own businesses at “Brooklyn Village.”

“The black economy has suffered and we feel you can trace that suffering back to the injustices that took place in Brooklyn and in Second Ward,” Keaton says.

There has been talk about reparations, but Keaton says the coalition has never used that term.

Coalition leaders say they’re talking about ways to create a “restorative justice” fund that could pay for things like after-school programs, micro-loans, and entrepreneurial grants.

Organizers plan to hold a community meeting to talk about the issue on August 22nd at 6:30pm at Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church.