$50 million complex concerns Barclay Downs

$50 million complex concerns Barclay Downs

Credit: The Charlotte Observer

$50 million complex concerns Barclay Downs

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by CAROLINE McMILLAN / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on June 1, 2012 at 11:56 AM

A rezoning petition that would put a 300-unit apartment complex adjacent to Barclay Downs Swim and Racquet Club is raising concerns among neighborhood residents and club members about the scale of the project.

The 3.2-acre parcel, across from SouthPark mall and facing Morrison Boulevard, is zoned for office space. Developer Woodfield Investments would like the property rezoned as Mixed Use Development District.

“I think the (apartments) create more architectural interest and more quality,” said Jeff Brown, managing partner of law firm King & Spalding’s Charlotte office, which is representing Woodfield.

“Another office building is just another office building,” he said.

The original plans for the $50 million apartment project have evolved as the developer has met with residents and city planning staff.

Woodfield representatives unveiled the plans at a May 24 community meeting at Sharon Methodist Church. About 110 Barclay Downs residents and members of the swim club attended that meeting, where there were a half-dozen poster-boards on display with “before” and “after” renderings.

Barclay Downs residents’ biggest concerns about the complex are the increased traffic, the building’s effect on the swim club’s pool and tennis courts, and the size and scale.

Residents said that if the apartments are approved, Barclay Downs Drive, which already gets cut-through traffic, will see more cars, seven days a week.

“We really do want to be reasonable. We’re not opposed to development,” said Robin Perkins, Barclay Downs resident and treasurer of the swim club. “It’s just so big and so imposing.”

Perkins, who is serving on the swim club’s rezoning committee, said she’d like to see Woodfield decrease the number of units in the complex.

Woodfield is not considering fewer units, but the revised plans have shifted the building away from the Barclay Downs club and closer to Morrison Boulevard. Also, the original plans called for eight stories but the revisions now include “tapering” in the back, where heights would range from four to eight stories.

The building height along the swim-club boundary was reduced from an average height of 110 feet to 76 feet.

According to studies commissioned by Woodfield, the building would cast only a “very modest shadow” a few hours a day in December and January.

John Williams, who teaches tennis at the Barclay Downs club, argued that because the lower courts are clay, even a “modest” shadow will make them unplayable from November to March.

Woodfield has also committed to more than $100,000 in road improvements for pedestrians, including new sidewalks, curb extensions and speed humps.

But residents say the pedestrian improvements don’t touch on the bigger problem: more apartments means more traffic.

Charlotte City Council District 5 representative Andy Dulin attended the May 24 meeting. Residents asked him to continue studying the rezoning.

Although a MUDD classification allows for retail establishments mixed with residential, Woodfield regional director Chadd Hagler said the complex would not have a retail component.

Homeowners’ Association President Ken Brown said there isn’t unanimous support for the project but there is a feeling that the high-end apartments are preferable to a “sterile-looking office building.”

“That’s the last thing we need in SouthPark,” said Brown. But “the overriding concern is that … this is too big of a project. (Some) wish it could be scaled down,” he said.

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