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Council members question SouthEnd development

Charlotte City Council members on Monday said they want the council’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Committee and city planning staffers to review the types of housing that are needed in the SouthEnd area and whether recent and planned development there is meeting those needs.

FCD-Development Inc. is seeking a rezoning to build apartments, offices, retail and restaurants at East Seventh Street and South Caswell Road, and has revised its plans after neighbors objected to its appearance and plans for parking. Illustration courtesy FCD-Development Inc.

FCD-Development Inc. is seeking a rezoning to build apartments, offices, retail and restaurants at East Seventh Street and South Caswell Road, and has revised its plans after neighbors objected to its appearance and plans for parking. Illustration courtesy FCD-Development Inc.

“We really have to look at how we’re growing our city,” said LaWana Mayfield, the council’s District 3 representative who also chairs that committee.

The thousands of apartments that have been built there over the past few years — and the high rents those properties secure — are “pushing people out of communities” and away from the public transportation those with smaller incomes rely on.

“It would be very difficult to see yet another multifamily project that comes in that doesn’t meet the needs,” she said.

Mayfield’s remarks came during a public hearing on a rezoning request from Pollack Shores Real Estate Group’s petition to build up to 402 apartments on West Tremont Avenue and South Tryon Street in SouthEnd. The apartment building, which would include about 2,500 square feet of nonresidential space, would fill about half of the 8.4-acre site. The property currently features a few industrial buildings.

The remaining vacant acreage further back from South Tryon Street would be developed at a later phase with residences, offices or retail space.

Pollack Shores is seeking a rezoning to transit-oriented mixed-use development with optional provisions from general industrial.

Laura Harmon, a city planner in development services, said the parcel is “one of the largest remaining industrial properties in the area,” which, until about a decade ago, was largely industrial. The construction of the Lynx Blue Line light-rail from southeast Charlotte to uptown has since brought development and the redevelopment of mills and industrial buildings into upscale apartments, offices, retail and restaurants. Pollack Shores’ proposed project is near the East/West Station.

The planning staff recommended the council approve the rezoning. The council is likely to vote on the project at its July 18 meeting.

During the public hearing, no one spoke against the project.

In another public hearing, District 1 Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey said she still thinks that apartments, offices, retail and restaurants proposed for East Seventh Street at South Caswell Road are too high. “But I’m hoping we can work on that,” she said.

It was the second public hearing on FCD-Development Inc.’s rezoning petition, which was modified after neighbors objected at an April 18 meeting. The developer changed plans for parking and is now proposing two buildings instead of one after concerns were raised that the building looked too “industrial.”

The buildings’ heights could reach 58 feet and 48 feet. The complex would include up to 100 apartments and 30,000 square feet of office, retail and eating and drinking establishments.

The rezoning requested is mixed use with optional provisions from neighborhood services.

The planning staff recommend approval pending resolution of outstanding issues related to site and building design.

Jim Belvin, who serves on the Elizabeth Community Association zoning and real estate committee, said the association now supports the plan.

The council also heard The Drakeford Co.’s plans to construct 12 townhomes on the north side of Central Avenue at Chatham Avenue. The half-acre tract, currently zoned for neighborhood business and office use, features a pool hall. The Drakeford Co. is seeking a rezoning to mixed-use development. Plans call for the townhomes to be no higher than four stories.

The planning staff recommended approval of the rezoning, saying that it is compatible with surrounding development and the evolving character of the neighborhood.

NoDa development

The planning staff did not recommend approval for NoDa Greenway One LLC and NoDa Greenway Two LLC’s request for a rezoning of 18.3 acres on the west side of East Craighead Road between North Davidson and North Tryon streets near the Lynx Blue Line extension.

Harmon said the staff was concerned that the plan lacked commitment to street networks, the proposed Cross Charlotte Trail, and parking design that would promote walkability.

The company is seeking a rezoning to transit-oriented development, mixed use, from three categories of industrial use.

“We want to see additional transportation commitments to support the walkable urban environment for this property and nearby property,” Harmon said.

Tony Kuhn, representing NoDa Greenway, told the council the company is committed to making those improvements.

Also in the increasingly popular NoDa neighborhood, the council heard ECP NoDa’s plans to redevelop a warehouse on 1 acre between East 35th and East 36th streets with an unspecified number of apartments and ground-floor retail and amenities.

The property is just north of North Davidson Street. If developed, the site would face the 344 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail that Crescent Communities broke ground on this year.

ECP NoDa is seeking a rezoning to mixed-use, transit-oriented development with optional provisions, which would allow it to increase the height of the building by 12 feet, to 79 feet. Such a zoning also allows the company to reduce required setbacks by 2 feet.

The parcel is currently zoned for general industrial and business use.

The planning staff supports the rezoning.

Also in NoDa, the council heard NoDa 3215 LLC’s plans to reuse an existing 2,000 square foot building that housed Salvador Deli and add a roof deck and patio seating. The company is requesting a rezoning to mixed-use from neighborhood business. The planning staff recommended approval pending resolution of outstanding issues.

Near Ballantyne, Taylor/Theus Holdings Inc.’s request to rezone 5.67 acres at Ardrey Kell and Community House roads was opposed by a neighbor, who said he was concerned about safety and security issues at the property, which is next to the athletic fields at Ardrey Kell High School.

In December, the council denied a request from the company to have the property rezoned for a climate-controlled storage building and office space. The company is now requesting a lower zoning classification, to light industrial for only a 135,000-square-foot storage building, and has proposed a plan that leaves a deep tree buffer around the property. The land is currently zoned for single-family homes.

The planning staff recommended approval pending the resolution of site design and transportation issues.

The council also heard Michael Adams’ request for a rezoning to mixed-use development with optional provisions from commercial center for 1.79 acres at Nations Ford and Tyvola roads. Plans for a convenience store, gas station and commercial building were rejected by the council earlier this year. The company is seeking a lower rezoning classification in order to build a Hawthorne’s New York Pizza and Bar restaurant and perhaps a coffee shop, topped by 80,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage.

The staff recommended approval of the rezoning.

Two people spoke against the rezoning, citing concerns about the height of the building blocking surrounding hotel signage, traffic, and security and safety.

Apartments approved

In other actions, the council approved several rezonings. Council members Vi Lyles, James Mitchell and Kenny Smith were absent from the meeting.

On the residential front, the council voted 7-0 to approve Horizons at Steele Creek’s rezoning request to build an additional 48 apartments at its multifamily complex under development in southwest Charlotte.

The Greensboro-based company wants to build one-, two-, and three-bedroom units in a pair of three-story buildings on 3.2 acres. Each building would feature 24 apartments. The property is at 10510 Steele Creek Road, north of Westinghouse Boulevard. The development would include a maximum of 82 parking spaces.

Horizons won rezoning approval in December 2014 to build up to 288 apartments on 19 acres immediately east of the site. Construction began at the site last summer.

In the latest petition, Horizons sought a rezoning to multifamily residential with conditional use from single-family and multifamily residential.

More than 40 percent of the land will be set aside for tree preservation.

The city staff recommended approval of the petition even though the project’s density will be higher than the four units per acre called for in the Steele Creek Area Plan. The staff said single-family residential development at the site would be challenging.

The council also voted 7-0 to approve the building of graduate-student housing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Marnicaly at UNCC LLC sought to rezone nearly 3 acres on the west side of Old Concord Road between Suther Road and John Kirk Drive in the University City area for up to 26 duplex units in 13 buildings.

The site, which will have a minimum of 55 parking spaces, is near UNC Charlotte’s main campus.

The city’s planning staff recommended approval of the petition, which sought a change in zoning to urban residential with conditional uses from institutional. The staff said the project’s design respects the character of surrounding streets by providing generous setbacks. In addition, site plans propose a new street off Old Concord Road that will provide additional connectivity.

As for mixed-use projects, the council voted 6-1 to approve a developer’s request to rehab an existing building on the north side of Central Avenue for office, retail, and restaurant uses. Councilman Greg Phipps opposed the rezoning. The company, 1101 Central Group, also plans to build a structured parking deck on the 1.2-acre tract, placing a climate-controlled self-storage component on top of the deck. The commercial component of the project will total 166,000 square feet.

1101 Central Group sought a rezoning to mixed-use development with optional provisions and a pedestrian overlay from general business with a pedestrian overlay. The company also requested five-year vested rights, which allow projects to be completed according to land-use plans and regulations in effect when the projects were proposed or approved, without regard to any subsequent changes in land-use regulations.

The city’s planning staff recommended approval of the rezoning petition, saying that site plans promote the pedestrian-friendly retail uses called for in the area plan.

Slightly to the north, the council unanimously approved Imprint Properties’ request to refurbish two commercial buildings on North Davidson Street with retail and restaurant space. The 1.4-acre site is between Donatello Avenue and Anderson Street. Site plans call for the addition of a 5,200-square-foot patio to one of the buildings.

Closer to uptown, the council unanimously approved White Point Paces Properties’ petition to build a mixed-use project on less than an acre at the southeast corner of Belmont Avenue and North Caldwell Street. The site is currently vacant.

Under the rezoning to transit-oriented development, the company can add office, retail and residential space to the site, which had been zoned for general industrial use.

The property is within walking distance of the Parkwood light rail station being built along the Blue Line extension to the University City area from uptown.

Other approvals

The council also voted to approve the following rezoning petitions:

*Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store’s request to rezone 10.22 acres at Sam Wilson Road and West Pointe Drive for a truck stop with a convenience store, an attached restaurant and a tire shop.

*The YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s petition to construct a parking deck with up to four stories on 1 acre across from the Dowd YMCA on South Caldwell Street. The deck would feature 17,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and would serve visitors to Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church, which owns the property.

*South End Gold’s request to use an industrial warehouse on West Palmer for mixed-use purposes. The transit-oriented mixed-use designation will permit the developer to use the site for retail, office, or residential purposes. No site plans accompanied the developer’s rezoning petition.

*Aston Properties’ petition to build 20,000-square-feet of commercial space on 3 vacant acres at the northeast corner of City Park Drive and West Tyvola Road in south Charlotte. Site plans call for three buildings, a rain garden for stormwater collection, outdoor seating, and a walking path.

The city staff recommended approval of the petition, saying it was consistent with the Southwest District Plan.

In other action, the council approved deferring a decision on a protested petition from 1351 Woodlawn to rezone 2.9 acres on the south side of Drexel Place and the north side of Woodlawn Road for the redevelopment of the Melrose Place apartments across from the Park Road Shopping Center. The petition was submitted before state lawmakers in August eliminated neighbors’ ability to force a supermajority vote to rezone land when a sufficient number of people protest the rezoning.

Because three council members were absent Monday, a vote on the rezoning was deferred until July 18.

The petition proposes the redevelopment of four single-family homes and the 54-unit multifamily development to allow up to 265 new apartments.

Some local residents have opposed the project, saying it would encroach on the neighborhood’s character. Others want to keep the single-family homes intact.

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