South End towers expected to win city approval

South End towers expected to win city approval

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by MARK BOONE / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Mark: MBoone@WCNC.com

WCNC.com

Posted on July 20, 2010 at 8:44 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 20 at 8:46 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- City leaders Monday night received their first briefing on a plan to redevelop 17 acres of land in South End.

Some homeowners living near the tract owned by the city's housing authority have voiced their concerns over the proposal to build three new towers on the property along South Boulevard and S. Caldwell Street.

The Charlotte Housing Authority is asking council members to rezone the property to allow for the construction of the towers.

About 120 apartments in single-story bungalows would be demolished. Low-income seniors who live in the subsidized housing would be relocated to newer homes on the redeveloped site.

David Furman, an architect who helped draft a plan for the site, told council members the development would "create as much value for the property" as possible, allowing the housing authority to sell the land and use the profits to finance affordable housing projects in other neighborhoods.

An original proposal to build a tower up to 200 feet tall along South Boulevard has been scaled back to a maximum height of 160 feet after planners held a series of meetings with adjacent property owners.

Two additional towers, with maximum heights of 120 feet and 100 feet, are also planned.

By comparison, the nearby Arlington building is about 300 feet tall, although the condos were built farther from the road than is proposed by the housing authority.

Wayne Camas, whose Dilworth home borders the CHA property, said he believes the proposed South Boulevard high rise, the base of which would start about 20 feet from the road, would be too close to South Boulevard and too tall for the neighborhood.

"This bodes not very well for everything that will happen now down South Boulevard," he told NewsChannel 36, adding the building would set a precedent for future development in South End. "You're putting a very tall building right on the street and creating a canyon."

Other neighbors have questioned the amount of traffic and noise the offices, condos, and shops would bring to the area.

The project's planners said their proposal is the result of a compromise with neighbors who have expressed doubts about the scope of the development.

"We've actually been meeting for two years," said Jeff Meadows, a senior development official with the Charlotte Housing Authority. "We feel like we have a really good plan."

Several acres of open space have been reserved on the property, Furman told city leaders, more than would be required under Charlotte's zoning rules.

Although plans call for the construction of up to 1.2 million square feet of retail, office and residential space, Furman said other details would be determined once a developer commits to the project.

"We created a generic plan and so we’re reluctant to talk about numbers of units, etc.," Furman told council members.

Camas said the lack of details is concerning.

"That’s part of our problem," he said. "It’s been too abstract."

Council is expected to approve the rezoning request in September.

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