Middle ground: Developer vows to work with group seeking to preserve historic home

By: Sharon Roberts, editor//September 20, 2016//

Middle ground: Developer vows to work with group seeking to preserve historic home

By: Sharon Roberts, editor//September 20, 2016//

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BNA Homes told the Charlotte City Council it will work with a group that wants to preserve a historic Steele Creek home, provided the group can formulate a plan and acquire funding by around the time the company completes the townhomes it plans to build.

Mark Blythe of BNA said during a rezoning public hearing that he met with the group Sept. 15, but that making the 1900 home structurally sound would be difficult and expensive.

“The home has been in disrepair for a number of years,” said Blythe, who said that as a fifth generation Charlottean, he was interested in historic preservation.

“I think this is a very nice gesture,” said Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey. “It’s a great opportunity to save an important part of our history.”

BNA’s rezoning request for 124 townhomes on 16 acres on the southeast corner of South Tryon Street and Beam Road was one of several the council considered during rezoning public hearings. Other requested rezonings anticipate townhomes, office and industrial space, and more than 1,000 apartments.

BNA is requesting a change from mixed-use 1, which would require half of the project to be single-family homes, to mixed-use 2 to allow for greater density and all townhomes.

The city planning staff has recommended approval upon the resolution of outstanding issues related to the environment, transportation and site and building design.

A couple of neighbors spoke against the project, and others said they want to see the preservation of a historic marker celebrating the “female Paul Revere” and the large, dilapidated home built by her descendants.

In 1780, the property was home to John McDowell and his wife, Jane Parks McDowell, according to “Touring North Carolina Revolutionary War Sites,” by Daniel Barefoot. As a detachment of British troops stationed in Charlotte was heading south, it ran across the McDowell plantation and began pillaging it.

As Jane Parks McDowell pleaded for them to stop, a captain – upon learning her last name was the same as his – realized they may be related and called the troops off.

After they left, she saddled her horse and, with her 2-year-old son in tow, rode through the night to Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church on West Sugar Creek Road to warn her husband, Capt. John McDowell, and an encampment of Continental forces of the troops’ movement, enabling them to continue their assault.

Realtor Jonathan Osman, who lives in an adjacent neighborhood and is a leader of the preservation group, said that the McDowell’s original cabin is believed to be within the walls of the larger house.

“We’ve lost a lot of history in Charlotte, and it would be a shame to lose another piece that we know about,” he said.

Today, there are two homes on the property: the 4,258-square-foot historic home, and a 3,044-square-foot home built in 1962.

The land was sold by Robert Sadler McDowell in 2006 to McCondichie Properties of Newnan, Georgia. The company planned to preserve the home and a historical marker installed by the Mecklenburg Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. McCondichie didn’t begin construction on its residential project. BNA has said it will preserve and protect the monument.

When the property was rezoned in 2006, it was approved for 85 single-family homes at a density of 5.38 units per acre. Under the current proposal, the density would be 7.81 units per acre.

The staff said that the proposal is consistent with the Southwest District Plan, but inconsistent with the density recommended by the plan. However, the staff said an increase in density is supported by the city’s General Development Policies and the fact that there are a variety of housing types in the area at different densities, ranging from three to 17 units per acre.

BNA would provide a 37.5-foot buffer with a fence and 50-foot buffers to create a transition between it and abutting lower density single-family homes. It also would provide a connection to Culloden More Court in a neighboring subdivision, and would provide two entrances from South Tryon Street.

The company would provide an easement connection for access to the Sugar Creek Greenway, and 10 percent of the land would be common open space.

The council is expected to vote on the rezoning request at its Oct. 17 meeting.

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