CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Charlotte City Council approved the purchase of two of the crime-ridden motels off Sugar Creek Road. 

The council voted 6-3 in Monday night’s meeting, with Lawana Mayfield, Braxton Winston and Ed Driggs dissenting. The plan requires more than $4 million to buy the land, demolish the buildings with affordable housing in the works.

Several city leaders referred to the “Sugar Creek” playbook, which falls under one of the city’s “corridors of opportunity,” or generally low socioeconomic areas.  

The motels, Budget Stay and Economy Inn, front Interstate 85 along Reagan Drive on 4.3 acres. While one of the buildings is vacant, 40 units are used for extended-stay guests; four of the 10 of such residents are building employees. 

“Taking 30 percent of these away is number one in the playbook,” said City manager Marcus Jones. 

Marjorie Parker, president of Hidden Valley Neighborhood Organization, urged for the approval vote. 

“I would like to see this mostly empty motel purchased, secured and demolished,” she said.  “I would like to see single-family townhomes, maybe a grocery store. We want this motel gone. You would not believe what we have seen as seniors as we pass this property.” 

Mayfield mainly took issue with how the lack of police presence has led to the “transactional crimes” like drug deals and prostitution that have been documented there. The Economy Inn is owned by Rising Tides LLC, and Budget Stay by Mara Enterprises; they’re valued at a combined $3.1 million per the 2023 revaluation.

“It’s not even one of our highest-call-case hotels,” she said. “Law enforcement has a place in this. So we’re going to pay a slumlord who has created chaos in our community over $4 million to turn around and go purchase somewhere else?” 

Mayor Vi Lyles said that the acquisition is the first step to right a wrong the city made decades before. 

“Corridors of opportunity come from because we didn’t invest in them the 1970s,” she said. “To say that was taken away, by government action, made it possible to drive down those streets. This is a down payment for the things we didn’t do in the 1970s. It’s not ok. There might be a little bit of difficulty, but we got to start somewhere. It starts with this vote tonight.” 

With the vote, $1 million from the Foundation for the Carolinas was appropriated in the General Capital Projects Fund into the Businesses in Opportunity Corridors. 

Councilman Ed Driggs wanted the funds to be used for other projects.