County: Levine’s $700M First Ward project to start in January

By: Tony Brown, Staff Writer//November 21, 2013//

County: Levine’s $700M First Ward project to start in January

By: Tony Brown, Staff Writer//November 21, 2013//

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park plan
The First Ward Park would be a central component of the first phase of developer Daniel Levine’s plans to build a $700 million “urban village” in uptown Charlotte’s eastern corner. Rendering courtesy Levine Properties

CHARLOTTE – Prominent Charlotte developer, landowner and visionary Daniel Levine’s much-ballyhooed, long-delayed $700 million public-private project to build an “urban village” in First Ward is now scheduled for a January ground-breaking.

That’s according to W. Lee Jones, capital planning division director for the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department.

Jones said that Levine, who with his family owns much of First Ward, told him about the start date at a Nov. 9 meeting at the UNC-Charlotte Center City building, where plans for a county park that will be central to the urban village plan were unveiled.

The 4.5-acre park, expected to cost $11 million, would be part of the first phase of Levine’s vision for First Ward. The county has pledged $8 million to the park, which Levine is expected to develop and build on land bounded by Ninth and Seventh streets to the north and south and east-west by Brevard Street and a new road to be called Market Street.

Levine announced in September 2012 that he was launching the ambitious, 15-year public-private project to transform nine blocks – or 30 acres, 23 of which belong to him and his family – of First Ward, which is now largely a landscape of surface parking lots. The announcement said the urban village would eventually comprise a park, 1,500 apartments, 1.5 million square feet of offices, 350 hotel rooms, 350,000 square feet of retail, three parking decks and a new set of streets and sidewalks.

When the plans were announced, Levine said he hoped to start construction on Phase 1 – the county park, roadwork paid for almost entirely by the city of Charlotte, two parking decks and 200 apartments –in December 2012 or January 2013.

After those months came and went, Levine said in March that work would start in May 2013, explaining that the project was being held up by government red tape.

Levine did not return multiple calls and emails seeking comment and confirmation.

Jones said the park will take an expected 16 months to complete once work begins.

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