Mihai Andritoiu

A community group in Cherry, one of Charlotte, N.C.’s oldest predominantly black neighborhoods, won a $1.6 million verdict against against developer StoneHunt LLC in July. The dispute stems from accusations of broken promises by the developer to build affordable housing on land that was purchased below market value. New, relatively expensive houses now occupy what used to be affordable rental units.

The case is still ongoing as the judge considers tripling the amount of the verdict. A separate case about about the land transfer is also hanging in the balance as is an eventual appeal by the developer. The other legal wrinkle concerns StoneHunt recently filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company listed assets of less than $50,000 and estimated liabilities of $1 million to $10 million.

“Promises had been made to our community that had not been kept,” Sylvia Bittle-Patton, a longtime Cherry resident and advocate. “It’s vindication, but the victory is bittersweet. We still lost a lot of land. We still have a lot of longtime residents who have been displaced.”

Cherry dates back to the 1890s, when it was built as an enclave to house African-Americans, many of whom worked in nearby homes or businesses. By the 1970s, according to a 1993 Observer story, parts of the neighborhood had become rundown, with many small houses rented by absentee landlords who didn’t maintain the properties.

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