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Charlotte couple claims racial discrimination in lawsuit over attempts to buy old Torrence Lytle School

The old building that sits on the corner of Holbrooks Road and Central Avenue was the first high school for Black students in this part of the county.
The couple spoke about their lawsuit Thursday morning.
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 8:37 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2022 at 2:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte couple is suing the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, accusing the commission of racial discrimination.

It stems from their efforts to buy the old Torrence Lytle School in Huntersville.

The old building that sits on the corner of Holbrooks Road and Central Avenue was the first high school for Black students in this part of the county.

It’s been closed for years, but a couple of former teachers wanted to buy it. They claim the commission blocked those efforts and now they’ve filed a lawsuit.

In that suit filed on March 22, Tyson and Regina Bates say they made offers to buy the school, with the intention of turning it into a school for underserved students.

They say the commission, which bought the building in 2007, offered white buyers lower prices for the property and did not require significant down payments, architectural plans, extensive financial statements or statements of occupancy.

The Bates claim the commission required them to submit “multiple proposals, extensive financial statements, architectural plans, and often times modified the terms of the contract to reflect an increase in the cost.”

Ultimately, the couple alleges the commission members cut off communication with them.

“All buyers, except for Plaintiffs are white, and have no ties to the community,” the suit states in part. “Buyers expressed no interest in knowing or honoring the significance of the Property, nor in restoring the property in a manner that would maintain its historic significance and value.”

The Bates, who are seeking damages, spoke about the lawsuit Thursday morning.

“They tried their best to discourage us. We know that that property is an assignment for us to better that community. Like Attorney Fox stated, they don’t want an African American historical property in an area that has been mostly gentrified,” Regina Bates said.

Members of the commission said they cannot comment on any potential legal matter.

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