New affordable neighborhood hopes to revitalize Northwest Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Affordable houses as fancy as Brightwalk's would grab attention anywhere. But the fact that they are being built in what used to be the Double Oaks neighborhood is quite a story.

A trolley took people on tours today through the development lined with picturesque homes. But the section of town this is in, just northwest of uptown, was not always so quaint and pretty.

Police had allowed our cameras on a ride-along in nearby Genesis Park in the 1980's then that revealed illegal drug activity.

Today, Genesis all sits in City Councilman James Mitchell's district.

"We had a very negative image," he says. "Cola Avenue used to be the place where you could get the best drugs money could buy. Double Oaks was looked upon for those that were less fortunate."

Now, a lot of people would feel lucky to have one of these homes.

Double Oaks has become Brightwalk through a lengthy list of public private partnerships.

"To us, it's a celebration of a neighborhood coming back," says Pat Garrett, president of the Charlotte Housing Partnership. "We first of all had to convince all those people with the money that we could actually do this."

Ryan Straight is with Standard Pacific, the builder who got on board. "The value that we're offering our homeowners is something they really can't find anywhere else, in SouthEnd or Dilworth or the other surrounding areas," he says.

Houses range from the $120's to $285,000, and help is available when purchasing some of them, thanks to a city of Charlotte down payment assistance program called House Charlotte.

"Brightwalk is about a bright future for a bright area that has so much potential for the city of Charlotte," Mitchell says.

Deputy Fire Marshall Jonathan Leonard grew up here. "This particular project I think is going to be incredible for this entire area," he says. "Earlier today as I was driving around, I was looking at some other buildings and you just have a vision that this will be a catalyst to start a transformation for this area that's long overdue."

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