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Chantilly Ecological Sanctuary at Briar Creek

Restored Floodplains, Improved Storm Drainage, Water Quality Controls, Habitat for Aquatic Life

​ What's new?

Construction has begun Construction is expected to be complete by September 2017.
Additional Funding was approved Additional funding was approved by the City Council and the BOCC due to additional construction costs

The Doral and Cavalier sites were home to more than 300 apartment units that repeatedly flooded. And Briar Creek, which runs through the property, is impaired because of pollution.

Solution Part 1: To reduce flood losses, the highest-risk apartments were purchased by Storm Water Services and torn down.

Solution Part 2: To improve water quality in the creek and tributaries, the floodplain and stream channels will be restored. Water quality enhancements such as ponds or wetlands will be constructed to treat stormwater runoff that currently drains directly into Briar Creek and Edwards Branch.

Solution Part 3: Once completed, the project area will be home to a thriving ecosystem for aquatic life. ​​​​​

Restoration project objectives:

  • improve water quality and aquatic habitat in Briar Creek, Edwards Branch and Chantilly Tributary
  • restore a total of about 4,500 linear feet of the streams 
  • temporarily hold some floodwater during heavy rain 

Restoration project costs: 
    Approximately $4.9 million

Restoration project funding sources:
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Fees: $4.8 million
    NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources 319 grant​: $100,000

Project schedule:
Construction: Construction began June 2016. The project should take approximately 14 months to complete. The project should be complete by Fall 2017.  

Efforts are made to minimize disruption to nearby property owners.

Future plans include:

  • a greenway trail;
  • educational opportunities for the nearby elementary school and community on the former Cavalier site;
  • certification of sanctuary for waterfowl and other species.

Overall restoration project manager:
Crystal Taylor, P.E.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services

Water quality enhancements project manager:
Isaac Hinson
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services

Project Goal: Turn “the most flood-prone buildings in Mecklenburg County” into a natural and beneficial urban floodplain.

This project will include:
  • restoring the channels of Briar Creek, Edwards Branch and Chantilly Tributary
  • adding water quality enhancements (Best Management Practices or "BMPs") such as ponds or wetlands to the floodplain to remove some stormwater pollution
  • preserving the more than 24 acres of open-space land along Briar Creek as an ecological sanctuary.

Stream work is not designed to reduce flooding. After restoration, the streams will still flood. But floodwater will not hurt the open space at the site.

Project History

The Doral and Cavalier apartment complexes were built in Charlotte’s worst flood hazard area. The complexes were built in the 1960s before restrictions on construction in floodplains. Three devastating floods in nine years caused millions of dollars in damage to both complexes and to the belongings of people living there.

Doral/Cavalier site during 1997 flood 

Doral/Cavalier site in 2012 after demolition 

Doral/Cavalier site during 1997 flood

Doral/Cavalier site in 2012 after demolition

Engineering studies confirmed there was no feasible way to stop Briar Creek from flooding thFlooded apartments with rescue boate apartments. If the highest-risk units remained, future flood damages would be 400% higher than the cost of the buyouts.

As part of Storm Water Services’ Floodplain Buyout Program:  
  • all of the Cavalier Apartments were purchased in 2008 and torn down in 2009
  • half of the Doral Apartments were purchased in 2010 and torn down in 2011  

Cavalier buyout cost: $9.6 million
    $6.6 million to purchase land (13 acres and buildings (192 apartment units) 
    $3 million for tenant relocation and building demolition

Cavalier buyout funding sources:
    FEMA Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant: $5.4 million (56%)
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services: $4.2 million (44%)



See a video from the March 12, 2009 Demolition Ceremony showing the benefits of this project.

Doral buyout cost: $4.7 million
Demolition of Doral Apartments        $3.1 million to purchase land (8.4 acres) and qualifying buildings (128 apartment units)
        $1.6 million for tenant relocation and demolition

Doral buyout funding sources:
FEMA Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant: $3.5 million (75%)
        Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services: $1.2 million (25%) 

Read the news release about the Doral Apartments buyout.

Giving back to the community
Before demolition in 2009, Habitat for Humanity removed reusable items from the Cavalier and Doral Apartments such as appliances, doors, windows, cabinets, and light fixtures. See a video.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police used empty apartment units for training exercises for SWAT officers and K-9 units.

During demolition at both sites, all asphalt, brick, concrete, carpets and metal products were recycled.