By Barney Blakeney
Metanoia Community Development Corporation in North Charleston has announced a new partnership to produce affordable housing in the Liberty Hill community and an update on its old Chicora Elementary School building renovation project.
Metanoia is working with The Lecque family and Golden Dream LLC to develop an eight-unit townhouse complex using funding from the South Carolina Housing Finance and Development Authority. The Lecques have agreed to sign a 50-year lease where the family will maintain ownership of their historic land and Metanoia will construct an eight-unit townhouse complex. Also, Metanoia and the Allegro Charter School of Music will partner to renovate the former Chicora Elementary School at 1212 Success Street as a permanent home for Allegro, a middle and high school that infuses music into its curriculum for 350 students throughout Charleston County.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held November 29 to announce the Golden Dream partnership and to begin the project. The new Golden Dream apartments will contain a range of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments which will all be affordable for low-to-moderate income families. The affordability of the units will range to families earning 30 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent and 80 percent of the area median income or less.
The historic Liberty Hill Community in North Charleston was settled by four Freedmen during Reconstruction. One of those families, the Lecque family, still maintains ownership of property in Liberty Hill. With a hope of keeping their community affordable and diverse as property values rise in and around Liberty Hill, the Lecque family approached Metanoia about the possibility of developing affordable housing on a piece of land that the family owns.
“It’s been a Godsend to partner with Metanoia in this effort,” said James Lecque, managing member of Golden Dream, LLC. “The Lecque Family has always wanted to develop apartment units for working families on property it owns. Metanoia and South Carolina State Housing Authority have made that vision a reality. We are grateful to all of the professionals, architects, engineers and others who participated in this project.”
Metanoia CEO Bill Stanfield said, “We are thrilled to be working with the Lecques on this project. It is great to enhance and preserve an asset for their family while also creating opportunities for more affordable housing in a region where housing prices are out of reach for so many. We are doing all we can to make sure they feel excited and proud of this new development.”
Based in North Charleston, Metanoia invests in the strengths of citizens through stewardship of resources and harnessing their capacity to transform people and places in the community. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Metanoia engages citizens with shared vision generating change through a holistic approach to community development.
Two years ago, the nonprofit set out to renovate the former Chicora Elementary School which owns and has leased to Metanoia the property. The campus will also house a Center for the Arts program that features artists’ studios and a 300-seat performing arts center, along with an Early Learning Center operated by Metanoia. The revitalized site will be nearly double the size of Allegro’s current location on the campus of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in downtown Charleston, where the school has been serving students for four and a half years. Allegro will occupy three floors of roughly half of the school building and plans to move into the space by early 2021.
Metanoia will leverage federal and state historic tax credits to pay for a portion of the construction to modernize the building and ensure it resembles and honors the old Chicora School that opened in 1935. The partnership will also allow Metanoia to close on the full-financing package for the school in early 2020. “This is significant news and allows us to move forward with the renovation of the Old Chicora Elementary School,” said Stanfield.