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Floodplain restoration, stream restoration and water quality improvements

​ What's new?

 Design of water quality  improvements        Complete for stream restoration designs for Briar Creek, Edwards Branch and Chantilly Park Tributary. Complete for floodplain BMPs      ​
 Permitting and
 easement phase underway
​Obtaining necessary floodplain development, water quality and land development permits and easements for construction.

The Doral and Cavalier sites were home to more than 300 apartment units that repeatedly flooded. And Briar Creek, which runs through the property, is impaired because of pollution.

Solution Part 1: To reduce flood losses, the highest-risk apartments were purchased by Storm Water Services and torn down.

Solution Part 2: To improve water quality in the creek and tributaries, the floodplain and stream channels will be restored. Water quality enhancements such as ponds or wetlands will be constructed to treat stormwater runoff that currently drains directly into Briar Creek and Edwards Branch.

Goal: Turn “the most flood-prone buildings in Mecklenburg County” into a natural and beneficial urban floodplain.

This project will include:
  • restoring the channels of Briar Creek, Edwards Branch and Chantilly Tributary
  • adding water quality enhancements (Best Management Practices or "BMPs") such as ponds or wetlands to the floodplain to remove some stormwater pollution
  • preserving the more than 24 acres of land along Briar Creek as open space.

Stream work is not designed to reduce flooding. After restoration, the streams will still flood. But floodwater will not hurt the open space at the site.

June 2013 project mailer

Doral/Cavalier project site
Doral/Cavalier project site


Depending on outside funding (not yet available at this time), other options could include:

  • expanding Chantilly Neighborhood Park
  • a greenway trail
  • educational opportunities for the nearby elementary school and community
    on the former Cavalier site.

 Conceptual plan for project site 
Restoration project objectives:

  • improve water quality and aquatic habitat in Briar Creek, Edwards Branch and Chantilly Tributary
  • restore a total of about 4,500 linear feet of the streams 
  • temporarily hold some floodwater during heavy rain 

Restoration project costs: 
    Approximately $3.6 million

Restoration project funding sources:
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Fees: $3.5 million
    NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources 319 grant​: $100,000

Project schedule:
Planning and design:
Summer 2012 to summer 2014
    Wildlands Engineering, Inc.
Construction: Construction is scheduled to begin Fall 2015, pending a successful bidding process for a general contractor. The construction phase will last an estimated 12 months, depending on weather and other factors.

Efforts are made to minimize disruption to nearby property owners.

Overall restoration project manager:
Crystal Taylor, P.E.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services

Water quality enhancements project manager:
Isaac Hinson
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services

Why a buyout?
The two apartment complexes were built in Charlotte’s worst flood hazard area. The complexes were built in the 1960s before restrictions on construction in floodplains. Three devastating floods in nine years caused millions of dollars in damage to both the Cavalier and the Doral Apartment complexes and to the belongings of people living there.

Doral/Cavalier site during 1997 flood 

Doral/Cavalier site in 2012 after demolition 

Doral/Cavalier site during 1997 flood

Doral/Cavalier site in 2012 after demolition

Engineering studies confirmed there was no feasible way to stop Briar Creek from flooding the apartments. If the highest-risk units remained, future flood damages would be 400% higher than the cost of the buyouts.

As part of Storm Water Services’ Floodplain Buyout Program:  
  • all of the Cavalier Apartments were purchased in 2008 and torn down in 2009
  • half of the Doral Apartments were purchased in 2010 and torn down in 2011  

Cavalier buyout cost: $9.6 million
    $6.6 million to purchase land (13 acres and buildings (192 apartment units) 
    $3 million for tenant relocation and building demolition

Cavalier buyout funding sources:
    FEMA Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant: $5.4 million (56%)
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services: $4.2 million (44%)

See the Cavalier Apartments' timeline.

  Flooded apartments with rescue boat

Flooded Cavalier Apartments in 2008

See a video from the March 12, 2009 Demolition Ceremony showing the benefits of this project.

Doral buyout cost: $4.7 million
$3.1 million to purchase land (8.4 acres) and qualifying buildings (128 apartment units)
        $1.6 million for tenant relocation and demolition

Doral buyout funding sources:
FEMA Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant: $3.5 million (75%)
        Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services: $1.2 million (25%) 

Demolition of Doral Apartments   See the Doral Apartments timeline.

Read the news release about the Doral Apartments buyout.

The buyout did not include more than ten acres of the Doral complex closest to Monroe road. The current owner of Doral will decide what to do with the 132 apartment units and more than ten acres of land still under Doral's private ownership.

 Doral Apartments demolition in 2011

Giving back to the community
Before demolition in 2009, Habitat for Humanity removed reusable items from the Cavalier and Doral Apartments such as appliances, doors, windows, cabinets, and light fixtures. See a video.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police used empty apartment units for training exercises for SWAT officers and K-9 units.

During demolition at both sites, all asphalt, brick, concrete, carpets and metal products were recycled.