CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A development proposed for nearly 200 acres in the University area would have green space and even a new school, but Charlotte planning staff and city council still have issues with the project.
Sitting on 182 acres in the elbow of Interstates 85 and 485 north of Mallard Creek Church Road, an area zoned for single-family residential has been petitioned for a mix of uses, including townhomes, apartments, and space for recreation. There would be up to 1,950 residential units in the project from Tribute Companies Inc.
With the influx of homes beyond what’s been slated for the city’s long-term plans, the developer has agreed to pay for road expansions to handle the added trips. Traffic signals have been proposed at two interchanges: Mallard Creek Church Road at Mallard Glen Drive; North Tryon Street at U.S. 29 Service Road. Further, dual-left turns would be added for Mallard Creek Church’s northbound and southbound exit ramps with I-85.
Despite the road improvements, Councilman Braxton Winston questioned the lack of multi-modal routes to reach the surrounding areas, notably the UNC Charlotte campus.
“I saw a lot of auto-centric improvements,” he said. “I did see some bike lanes but didn’t hear a mention of protected bike lanes. This is a part of town that is pretty auto-centric right now… It’s relatively close to a college.”
In addition to the development’s impact on UNCC, it would have a significant one on public schools. Tribute representative Collin Brown said the developer has been in talks with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for building an elementary school as the property’s centerpiece.
“This is very much a great piece of land they would like an opportunity to be at,’ Brown said. “It’s not an afterthought; the school would be a central part of this development.”
City planners determined that the development would increase the capacity at all three schools serving the area, without mobile classrooms. Here are the comparisons to what buildout would be in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan under current land use and the proposed project:
- Stony Creek Elementary, from 121 percent to 144 percent
- James Martin Middle, from 67 percent to 75 percent
- Julius Chambers High, 137 percent to 140 percent
“The school is not necessarily the age of kids going to be driving to school,” Winston said.
One of the reasons city planners haven’t approved the plan is due to the lack of commercial spaces. But Brown noted how the property is buried away from the major thoroughfares, so “it doesn’t have traffic you would like to see.”
Councilwoman Renee Johnson applauded the proactive approach to schools. The development would take 10 to 15 years to complete, Brown said.
“This checks the box, answers the need,” she said. “We need to take a look at our policy, considering cumulative growth in the city.”
The housing types would be placed on the sides closest to existing residences. Townhomes would connect to the Mallard Glen properties, with the apartment further back toward the dual-interstate interchange.
Charlotte’s rezoning program manager Dave Pettine thinks some tweaks could make this more viable.
“I understand the constraints of the location,” he said. “A project this large and more of a bubble format is in some ways reasonable but this far off the road and is also impacting a bunch of different streets. I don’t think we’re too far apart. It’s not consistent with the plan. I don’t think the plan ever environed a comprehensive large-scale project of this size of this area of the interchange. We have some work to do, but I don’t think it’s insurmountable at this point.”
The council will vote on the project at the May 15 rezoning meeting.