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Steele Creek apartments seek rezoning

Two Charlotte City Council members on Monday reiterated their concerns that not enough affordable housing is being built in the city.

“We do have a deficit of 34,000 units right now,” said Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles, while discussing an MPV Properties Inc.’s rezoning request that would allow the company to build 410 apartments in Steele Creek.

Lyles and Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield asked MPV representative Collin Brown, of the law firm K&L Gates, whether any of the apartments would be “workforce” housing, or leased at rates affordable to families making 60-80 percent of the area’s median income.

Brown said that average rents in the Steele Creek submarket are lower than in other areas of the city, and are affordable to families making 80 percent of the area’s median income.

“If it was absolutely imperative… I’m sure there’s a way” to meet the council’s goals, he said.

MPV is seeking a rezoning of 41 acres south of South Tryon Street near Steele Creek Road and Walker Branch Drive to build a 410-unit apartment project on vacant land next to the Rivergate Shopping Center.

“I agree this is an affordable area,” said Lyles. But, she said, “We absolutely need to address the deficit we have in the city.”

Lyles said the city staff has been working on a policy paper that should be completed in the next few weeks and that would be considered as the city continues the process of rewriting its zoning ordinances.

MPV is seeking a zoning of urban residential with conditions and five-year vested rights from conditional single-family residential and conditional multifamily residential.

The planning staff recommended approval upon resolution of outstanding issues related to stream restoration and greenway dedication. The council is expected to vote on the request Oct. 17.

The largest portion of the property, 39 acres, had been zoned for 119 single-family homes as part of a 1992 rezoning for a 526-acre development that was to have included nearly 700 homes, 2,238 apartments and 700,000 square feet of office and retail.

The staff found that while multifamily development is consistent with the Steele Creek Area Plan, the proposed density of 10 units per acre was inconsistent with the plan’s recommended maximum of eight units per acre, but still appropriate. MPV also proposed extending Walker Branch Drive over a creek to the Shoppes at Rivergate South.

Additionally, MPV agreed to work with the Charlotte Department of Transportation to provide a future second bridge connection and extension of Rivergate Parkway. The staff said the development would also provide important pedestrian and bike connections to the shopping center and the Walker Branch Greenway.

The buildings would be a maximum of 50 feet high and their facades would contain 30 percent brick, natural stone or an equivalent material. The community would have a swimming pool, seating areas and a trail network.

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