By ourtesy of WFAE 90.7

The Charlotte Housing Authority showed off a new development Friday intended to serve low-income families and seniors.

The 41-acre site on West Boulevard near the Billy Graham Parkway used to be called Boulevard Homes, and it was a pretty rough area. Before it was torn down two years ago, the public housing complex was often in the news for violent crimes, including a 1993 shooting that claimed the lives of two CMPD officers.

A $21 million federal grant paid for the demolition. To get that money, the city committed $12 million toward infrastructure improvements. The grant also requires a school be included in the development plans. The neighborhood has been appropriately branded Renaissance. It will eventually include more than 300 units.

Laura Clark is director of the Renaissance West Community Initiative. She says the idea is to create a multi-generational environment for kids to grow up in.

“It just changes the frame entirely to have a whole community dedicated to building our children up,” she says.

The first building to open is reserved for seniors and disabled people. It’s brick with robin’s-egg blue accents, dormer windows on the top floor, and brown wooden rocking chairs on the front porch. People driving down West Boulevard may be surprised when they see it, says City Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield.

She predicts, “They’re going to say, ‘oh, that’s affordable housing?’”

The building’s 110 units are all one bedroom. Rents range from under $400 to more than $1,000 a month. There’s a screened-in porch that looks out over the rest of the neighborhood, which is now still a construction site.

Plans are for the Renaissance development to be finished by 2015, at a cost of $75 million.