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Cornelius News

Tenant house: It really is saved, but it won’t move to a town park

Sharecropper/tenant house / Photo by Jason Benavides

April 6. By Dave Yochum. As of April 5, Preserve Mecklenburg says they “can now see a way to preserve the tenant house” on the Alexander Farm property which will soon become a large mixed-use development.

It all came down to the wire with the developer at odds with the Town of Cornelius over where and how many times to relocate the fragile structure. PMI seems to have been a referee in a months-long saga.

Town plans announced last week had the structure moving twice—once to a temporary location and a second time to a new park at the back of the property where it would be less visible to passersby.

Mecklenburg historian Dan Morrill—and property developer Win Development—said a newly negotiated permanent site amidst mature trees right at the corner of Westmoreland and West Catawba was “excellent.”

Just one move

Moving it to the corner permanently requires just one move, according to Win, which is footing the bill. Morrill said the prominent site at the corner of Westmoreland and West Catawba will also help keep local history at the forefront of daily living.

Win, with a grading contractor on deck, was prepared to demolish the tenant house. Efforts to save the structure became something of an emergency in December; this, after the property went on the market in 2015.

Dan Morrill

PMI will assist in determining a final use for the structure. The house will be protected with a preservation easement, and its history will be interpreted with exhibits, Morrill said.

Morrill, who thanked Win Development, the State Historic Preservation Office, Preserve Mecklenburg and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for their efforts to save the tenant house, said he hopes the new location at the corner of Westmoreland and West Catawba will be more interactive and dynamic than a “passive” location at the back of the property.

Win Development officials, who said the town on Dec. 10 declined to participate in the tenant house relocation, will build a mixed-use project that includes residential, commercial space and retail.

‘Not participating’ memo

Deal is struck

Morrill said Win is “totally on board” with saving the house, in time for an April 12 deadline—the first day that Win has a legal right to demolish the house.

Part of the deal to save the house involves Win adjusting the mix of residential development on the 55-acre property. Morrill said Win sacrifices seven houses for 13 senior units. In return Win and PMI “will take full responsibility for moving the house to the corner.”

(Plans filed with the town show 120,360 square feet of commercial space including a Lidl grocery store; 200,000 square feet for senior independent living units and 76 single-family detached homes priced around $600,000.)


The Alexander Farm was the last working farm on the west side of I-77 in Cornelius.

J. Wilson Alexander won the state prize in 1929 for producing more cotton per acre than any other farmer in the entire State of North Carolina.

The tenant house is sited in the upper left corner of the 55 acre farm facing West Catawba. It will be moved to the bottom left corner