Developers and opposition parties spoke before Charlotte City Council last week at a public hearing for several high-profile zoning petitions in south Charlotte.
It was standing room only at the July 16 meeting as one contentious zoning proposal near Barclay Downs Drive drew more than 200 people so many, in fact, the neighborhood rented a charter bus for transportation.
The zoning proposal (No. 2012-045) is for a $50 million, 300-unit apartment complex adjacent to Barclay Downs Swim and Racquet Club. Currently zoned for office space, the 3.2-acre parcel is across from SouthPark Mall facing Morrison Boulevard.
Developer Woodfield Investments would like the property to be zoned as Mixed Use Development District, but many Barclay Downs residents and club members fear the size and scale of the project would bring more cut-through traffic and cast a shadow on the swim club and tennis courts.
More than 200 Barclay Downs residents and club members attended the Monday night meeting. Adults wore Barclay Downs swim club T-shirts, and some children wore bathing suits and held signs.
Our club is an extension of our backyards, said John Reeves, president of Barclay Downs Swim and Racquet Club. Were not opposed to development. Were opposed to this unprecedented, large structure right on top of our peaceful club.
When those opposed finished speaking to the council, they were met with raucous applause.
This is the most exciting zoning meeting Ive ever been to, said Mayor Anthony Foxx.
Woodfield representatives have met with concerned residents on more than a dozen occasions, said the areas city council representative, Andy Dulin.
Ive seen neighbors and developers get together to work on projects before, but this is probably No. 1 (most engaged) in my seven years at this dais, said Dulin.
In response to residents concerns, Woodfield recently decreased the number of units to 280. Revised site plans also have shifted the building away from the Barclay Downs club and closer to Morrison Boulevard.
The original plans called for eight stories but current plans include tapering in the back, where heights 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.
We are disappointed we havent reached a resolution at this time, said Jeff Brown of King & Spalding international law firm in Charlotte, which represents Woodfield.
The planning staff recommended approval for the Woodfield zoning. City council will vote on the petition at the Sept. 17 meeting.
Hotel plans withdrawn
City Planning Coordinator Tammie Keplinger opened the zoning portion of the meeting by announcing that K+P Development, LLC, had withdrawn its contentious petition for a five-story, 108-room hotel along Park South Drive.
The proposed structure would have been 55,100 square feet on a 0.65-acre site, which is currently vacant and zoned for single-family residential use. The lot is surrounded by a senior-living community, an adult day care center and a single-family home neighborhood.
Dozens of residents upset over the proposed hotel waved signs in opposition at a the public hearing in May.
Chris Adams of CN Hotels, which would develop the property, said Marriot, Hilton and IHG brands had expressed interest.
Though the city planning department recommended approval of the project, council members showed hesitation. It just doesnt fit in, said District 1 Representative Patsy Kinsey.
Its too big a building for too small a footprint, said Dulin.
Not a high-end empty nest
Staff also recommended approval of Petition No. 2012-49, filed by Developer Faison-Hollow, which requested new zoning for the 34 acres where Quail Valley Apartments is located.
Built in the 1970s, Quail Valley consists of about 230 apartments and is near the intersection of Carmel and Quail Hollow roads.
The developer bought the land in 2007, with hopes of transforming the garden-style apartments into townhomes and condominiums.
But during the recession, people began looking for rentals, not mortgages. So the developer revised the plans, creating new ones for a multifamily community with 390 apartments, said Keith MacVean, a land-use real estate consultant with the King & Spalding international law firm in Charlotte, which represents Faison-Hollows development.
The proposed community would include two-story, podium-style buildings as well as manor-style apartments with garages and private staircases.
If the zoning petition is approved, Faison-Hollows plans are to level the existing development and build a new one.
The target market is young, 30-something professionals who live or work in SouthPark, as well as empty-nesters. Whereas rent now starts around $800 per month, the new complex would likely increase rent prices by about 50 percent said MacVean.
District 4 Representative Michael Barnes, the only council member to raise a concern, noted the existing complex is relatively affordable, while the new development would be for a different demographic.
City council will vote on the zoning petition at its Sept. 24 meeting.