March 19, 2008
For Immediate Release
MOST FLOODPRONE BUILDINGS IN THE COUNTY TO BE TORN DOWN
Charlotte, North Carolina – The often-flooded Cavalier Apartments will be bought by Mecklenburg County and torn down. This all but eliminates the chance of flood insurance dollars or tax money being spent to rescue people or repair damages from a future flood. Property owner Cavalier Associates, LP, and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners have agreed to a sale price of $6,590,000. Commissioners formally approved the purchase at the Board's March 18 meeting.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $9.6 million:
- $6.6 million to purchase the buildings and land
- $3 million for demolition and tenant relocation
Sources of funding:
- Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Grant: $5.4 million (55% of total project cost)
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Fees: $4.2 million (45% of total project cost)
Cavalier Apartments buyout facts:
- Located at 550 Bramlet Road
- 192 apartments on nearly 13 acres of land in the regulated floodplain
- Northern bank of Briar Creek between Independence Boulevard and Monroe Road
- Built in 1971 before restrictions on building in floodplains
- Significant flood losses occurred in 1995, 1997 and 2003
- Negotiations took more than 14 months.
Benefits of the buyout:
- Permanently reduce the threat of loss of life or personal property due to flooding
- Save money on flood insurance claims and emergency response services
- End the problem of temporarily housing more than 100 families after each flood event
Mecklenburg County will take ownership at closing, which is expected in 60 days. In compliance with the federal Uniform Relocation Act, qualifying residents of the apartments will be given a one-time payment to help with moving expenses and higher rental costs for comparable housing. Storm Water Services staff is currently holding meetings with residents to explain the process. Demolition is expected to begin in late 2008.
As the site is cleared, County staff will hold public meetings and planning workshops to help determine the future use of the 13 acres of open space. Possible uses of the land might include a greenway, water quality features such as wetlands and rain gardens, recreational opportunities, or a combination. The Board of County Commissioners ultimately will decide what to do with the site along Briar Creek.
County Storm Water Services Division Director Dave Canaan says buying the property will save public money in the long run. "It's cheaper for the government to get people and buildings out of harm's way than it is to issue disaster checks after repeated, severe floods," he says. He notes that detailed benefit/cost analysis was required as part of the grant application and approval. "If the apartments remained, future flood damages would cost four times more than we're spending to buy and demolish them now," Canaan says.
The cost savings does not include money spent on emergency evacuations by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and Charlotte Fire Departments, or the cost to the Red Cross and other groups who house and feed flood victims. Past rescue and emergency assistance costs associated with flooding at the Cavalier Apartments have cost several hundred thousand dollars. "This is another win-win," says Canaan. "The federal government will no longer pay flood damage claims for Cavalier, local emergency response personnel can focus on other priorities during a flood, and the community gets an additional 13 acres of land for public use."
Money for the buyouts comes from a combination of FEMA grants and local (storm water fee) funds. FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program provides grants for mitigation, which FEMA defines as "reducing the long-term risk of loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters." For the Cavalier acquisition, Storm Water Services received technical support from the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management.
Since 2000, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services has purchased 160-floodprone buildings.
Buildings acquired through this program have been torn down and the floodplain has been returned to a more natural and beneficial state.