Deteriorating building, once a school in South End, to be preserved

CHARLOTTE — A historic landmark, that was the Wilmore School, in the middle of South End development will not be demolished.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools voted to sell it for just over $8 million.

CMS Director of Real Estate Dennis Lacaris said the transaction will put to rest concerns that the four-acre site will not be razed.

You don’t preserve it for five years, knock it down. You don’t preserve it for 10 years, then knock it down. It’s got to be preserved in perpetuity,” Lacaris said.

The Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, which represents the private buyer, is ensuring it will be preserved.

“The community at large, if anybody’s paying attention, has known that this school has been shuttered and closed, and deteriorating for decades now,” said Jack Thomson, the regional director for the foundation.

There will be opportunities for the public to weigh in on what it could be even though there are no specifics about what the property will be in the future.

“It (funds) generally goes toward housing,” Thomson said. “We hope in this case, something’s that a more affordable housing component in the school, itself.”

“Could be a cool, smaller Optimist Hall where it’s a food hall, different restaurant options,” said nearby resident Aida Smailagic.

He is comforted by whatever happens, it will be a historic landmark.

“Just how unique everything is,” Smailagic said. “All the houses are very different, and Wilmore has been kind of historic to Charlotte.”

He added, “This area is obviously getting developed by the day, so I think it could be an awesome something.”

There will be public hearings with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission to get input from the community on what should be done inside the Wilmore School.

However, any redevelopment plans must go through the city’s standard rezoning process.

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