CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Change is expected to come to the Grier Heights neighborhood in southeast Charlotte after city officials approved plans that would allow for a new Chick-fil-A and Starbucks.
Wendover Plaza is home to a Food Lion and several Charlotte shops. City leaders say the shopping center hasn't seen much investment in recent years. That's about to change.
Charlotte City Council voted Monday to approve rezoning that would allow for a Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, both with drive-thru windows, on Wendover Road. It was passed in a 7-3 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, Braxton Winston and Renee Johnson voted against the rezoning.
But the decision wasn't necessarily easy or obvious.
"The council has pretty universally said we want to be moving away from drive-thru type uses, we want to be a city that people get out of their cars," Larkon Egleston said.
Egleston represents District 1, where Wendover Plaza is located. He said the Food Lion is struggling. He believes new businesses will solidify the Food Lion's future. Without it, he says the area might become a food desert.
"The assurance of that grocery store long-term outweighed what I don’t like about adding drive-thru uses," Egleston said.
According to the rezoning petition, a local real estate investment firm called Piedmont Capital wants Starbucks to come into an old credit union building, which already has a drive-thru window. Meanwhile, the Chick-fil-A could be built in the Food Lion parking lot.
John Holmes with Sustain Charlotte says it raises several concerns.
“It contributes to pollution, it reduces the overall walkability, it increases noise, traffic congestion," Holmes said.
The plaza is located across from apartment complexes. On Tuesday afternoon, cars zoomed by and the road was busy with pedestrians.
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As a former Chick-fil-A manager, Holmes has seen the negative impacts of drive-thrus.
“It also results in traffic fatalities so there’s been a number of car crashes at Chick-fil-As and pedestrians being hit in the cross-walk intersections,” Holmes said.
The company looking to invest in the plaza wants to work with the community; they recently helped open a Goodwill in the area, creating more jobs.
Documents show they do not plan to demolish any buildings and will allow all current tenants to stay.