Developers break ground on apartment project named to honor first AME Zion bishop

When completed in fall 2022, Varick on 7th will include 105 apartment units -- nearly half of them income and rent controlled.

“One of the most inclusive and diverse communities in Uptown Charlotte.”

That’s how a developer is describing Varick on 7th,  an apartment complex soon to rise on vacant land adjacent to the Little Rock Cultural Center.

The project is a collaboration between the developer (Laurel Street), the city of Charlotte, and the Little Rock Community Development Corp.

The entities involved in the collaboration all gathered for an official groundbreaking on Wednesday. Completion was announced for fall 2022.

Why it matters: Fifty of the development’s 105 units will be “rent and income restricted,” officials have said.

The groundbreaking comes as a coalition of local organizations, led by Charlotte Center City Partners, have pledged to develop a five-year plan that they hope will reduce homelessness and greatly diminish housing insecurity in the city.

Officials break ground for Varick on 7th, a collaboration between real estate developer Laurel Street, Little Rock CDC and the city of Charlotte. Photo: Yellow Duck Marketing.

Varick on 7th was named in recognition of James Varick, the founder and first bishop of the AME Zion Church. Varick advocated for the abolition of slavery and helped establish the Freedom Journal, the first Black-owned newspaper in the United States. He died in 1827.


“James Varick spent his life fighting for equal rights,” the Rev. Dwayne A. Walker, senior pastor at Little Rock AME Zion Church and board chair and founder of Little Rock CDC, said in a statement. “It was only fitting to have his name adorn a community built on the idea of inclusivity.”

With 105 units, the development will include:

  • 67 one-bedroom apartments
  • 24 two-bedroom apartments
  • 14 three-bedroom apartments

Little Rock AME Zion Church contributed land to the Little Rock CDC for the development and later will share parking with Varick tenants. The city also contributed land.

Financing for the $18.5 million project will include $1.5 million from the Charlotte Housing Trust Fund, plus $3.2 million from the Charlotte Housing Opportunity Investment Fund. The rest will come from private equity and debt.

Designed in a U shape, the five-story development will include courtyard space for outdoor activities. It also will have a fitness room, lounge, café, business center and two elevators.

Glenn Burkins
Glenn is founder and publisher of He's worked at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and Charlotte Observer.

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This article has 3 comments.

  1. This land once had two shotgun houses which had been relocated from the nearby Black community of Blandville. These units represented a type of affordable housing available in the early twentieth century. They have been moved to west Charlotte and the West Side Community Land Trust is rehabilitating them for affordable housing. A great save for history in Charlotte (they are designated historic landmarks).

  2. The new housing is going on a site that used to have two shotgun houses, which were affordable housing in the early twentieth century. They were originally located in the Black community of Blandville and moved in the 1980’s to be adjacent to the Afro American Cultural Center. They were acquired by the West Side Community Land Trust and moved to a new location where they will be rehabilitated as affordable housing. This saves an important piece of Charlotte’s history (both are designated historic landmarks.)

  3. This apartment complex is going to be one of the 1st true signs of affordable housing for charlotte residents .Hoppful my those that still Do not make a living wage,but deserve to live in a decent environment..

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