City Council approves 25-story hotel, apartment development at Metropolitan

By: Payton Guion, staff writer//May 20, 2014//

City Council approves 25-story hotel, apartment development at Metropolitan

By: Payton Guion, staff writer//May 20, 2014//

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CHARLOTTE – City Council members on Monday night voted to approve a site plan amendment that will allow Levine Properties to build a 25-story hotel and apartment tower on an empty piece of land at the Metropolitan mixed-use property in Midtown.

Some neighbors, especially those currently living in condominiums at the Metropolitan, were opposed to the development, saying it would block their views of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. But the council approved the plan amendment because the original site plan already called for a 20-plus story development.

“I never want the citizens to feel like they’re not being heard, but when this was originally rezoned, that corner was always going to have some height to it,” said David Howard, councilmember at large. “Three (additional) stories aren’t going to change the views.”

The Charlotte City Council in 2005 approved the developer’s plans for a 250-foot-tall, 155-apartment development on 1.3 acres of the 26.6 acres that constitute the Metropolitan. That project never got off the ground, and Levine Properties earlier this year filed the amendment petition, which asked to add up to 35 extra feet and up to 175 hotel rooms to the plan.

According to the city’s Zoning Committee, Levine has some flexibility in its plan. The number of residential units can be increased by a maximum of 25 units, resulting in 180 multifamily units, if the number of hotel rooms is reduced by 25; and the number of hotel rooms can be increased by a maximum of 25 rooms, resulting in 200 rooms, if the number of residential units is reduced by 25 units.

Brian Nicholson, director of construction and development with Levine, said the company hasn’t determined the specific mix of multifamily units and hotel rooms for the property.

“There’s nothing firm quite yet,” he said. “Getting through last night was the first hurdle to pass before we could really start talking to hotels.”

Nicholson said Levine could announce the hotel brand and mix of units within the next three months. Construction is set to start sometime in the summer of 2015 and will take about two and a half years to finish.

Also on Monday night, the council approved plans for a 150-unit apartment complex on Abbey Place, off Park Road.

Charlotte-based Lat Purser & Associates in January submitted a request to the city asking for a rezoning of 1.68 acres on the southeast corner at Abbey Place and Hedgemore Drive. The petition asked to change the zoning on that property from a general office use to a mixed-use development district, which would allow the 150-unit community.

Kenny Smith, the District 6 councilman, said there were a few concerns from neighbors about the density of the apartment project, but he added that under its previous zoning, a 150-foot-tall office building would have been allowed. The Lat Purser apartments will be 66 feet tall, he said.

Abbey Place is a small road that runs behind Montford Drive, which has become a popular nightlife destination with several bars, restaurants and a bowling alley. The property is about a half-mile from Park Road Shopping Center and even closer to other shopping centers, making the site attractive for potential apartment renters looking for walking-distance amenities.

Other actions:

  • The council voted to schedule a new public hearing for a zoning amendment that would change definitions and regulations in the zoning ordinance concerning eating, drinking and entertainment establishments. The new public hearing date is June 16. The proposed amendment is needed because the regulations haven’t been changed since they were drafted in 1981, said Debra Campbell, Charlotte-Mecklenburg planning director. In the 33 years since the rules were written, the idea of restaurants, bars and nightclubs have changed, she said. “Back then, clubs didn’t serve food, restaurants didn’t have entertainment; now they do,” Campbell said. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.”
  • The council deferred to June 9 a decision on a rezoning petition that would allow the development of a 120,000-square-foot, 134-suite retirement community. Hawthorn Retirement is asking for a rezoning on 10.01 acres on the east side of Providence Road, between Lakeside Drive and Kuykendall Road, from a residential classification to an institutional classification that would allow the development.

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