Some residents in the historic McCrorey Heights neighborhood have banded together hoping to stop Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles from demolishing a small, single-family home she bought and replacing it with a new one.
Public records show that Lyles bought the home at 1623 Madison Avenue in 2022, paying $418,500. Some new homes in the neighborhood are listed at nearly twice that amount.
Neighbors who oppose the demolition say the house has historic significance and ought to be preserved.
“There’s literally no reason to knock down this perfectly good, brick [house],” Angela Stoyanovitch, a McCrorey Height resident, told QCity Metro. “It’s a beautiful outside shell of a building. It’s insulting to our neighbors, it’s insulting to our history, it’s insulting to our community and to our environment.”
Why it matters: The city’s West End neighborhoods, including McCrorey Heights, are being gentrified as modest homes give way to larger dwellings, making historically Black communities increasingly unaffordable.
QCity Metro reached out to Mayor Lyles for comment but did not get an immediate response.
In August 2022, the Charlotte City Council voted to designate McCrorey Heights as a historic district. The permit to demolish the house was filed just five days before that vote, which has been on the council’s schedule for weeks.
Lyles told reporters Tuesday she bought the home intending to move in but decided to tear it down and rebuild after discovering problems with the house, The Charlotte Observer reported.
“I’ve been following every rule that every resident has to follow and this is a place that I intend to call home,” the Observer quoted Lyles as saying. “It’s a place that really is important to me. And I’m looking forward to actually living in McCrorey Heights with people that I consider as both my neighbors and my friends.”
Like other historically black neighborhoods in Charlotte’s West End, McCrorey Heights has seen real estate prices soar as once-modest streets are being gentrified. Large, newly constructed homes in the neighborhood list for more than $700,000, a level unheard of even a decade ago.
To residents of McCrory Heights, the home set for demolition is commonly referred to as the “Heard House,” previously owned by Isaac Heard Sr. and his wife Gwendolyn.
The Heards moved to Charlotte in 1953 and bought the home in 1957, according to the neighborhood website.
Isaac Heard worked as an engineer with Douglas Aircraft and later worked with Charlotte’s Community Development Office in an effort to combat urban renewal. His wife was an educator at Johnson C. Smith University and a community activist.
According to the website, Harvey Gantt, who became Charlotte’s first Black mayor, designed the home’s carport extension in 1975.
Sean Langley, president of the McCrorey Height Neighborhood Association, said he hopes the demolition can be stopped.
“We’ve lost so much of our own Black history by way of urban renewal, with losing Brooklyn,” he said, referring to the former Black neighborhood that was razed in uptown Charlotte in the 1960s and ’70s during “urban renewal.”
Many of the families displaced from Brooklyn resettled in McCrorey Heights.
“And now to watch another piece of our history being torn down,” he said. “It’s just, it’s disheartening.”
On Wed., Feb. 15, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles had the McCrorey Heights home she owned demolished, ending a dispute with residents who wanted to see it saved.
A group of neighbors gathered to watch as a piece of heavy machinery leveled the property known in the community as Heard House.
Before the demolition, Lyles tweeted:
“Today the house on Madison Avenue will be demolished. I purchased this house as-is and, as the prior owner acknowledges, there are major structural issues in the foundation. When I rebuild, I will follow all the rules of the HDC and the neighborhood covenants.”
QCity Metro Publisher Glenn H. Burkins contributed to this story.