When plans for a large student housing complex at UNC Charlotte were announced last year, residents of College Downs, a neighborhood near the university, were initially concerned about getting hundreds of new student neighbors in summer 2014.But the neighborhood’s relationship with Charlotte real estate firm Crescent Resources has improved, residents say, since the company began construction in February on a 546-bedroom student apartment complex at Circle University City, between Mark Twain and Suther roads.A number of College Downs residents protested the proposal before construction began, concerned about the potential consequences of a 70-foot-tall apartment complex with hundreds of student residents, said Sean Riley, a professor of philosophy at UNCC who lives on Sandburg Road in College Downs.Riley said the neighborhood talked to the City Council and succeeded in getting the height of some of the buildings reduced; they will now be four stories high.Last October, a group of residents also persuaded the City Council to restrict parking on weekdays in the neighborhood because they said too many students were parking there. Since construction started, Riley said, the company has responded to individual complaints from residents, such as erosion or silt runoff from the construction site. “Even though we didn’t want the project, they’re being friendly with the project,” he said. College Downs residents have historically been faculty members, but the neighborhood is increasingly occupied by students, said Sean Langley, UNCC’s director of off-campus and volunteer outreach.Long-term College Downs residents have previously cited problems to campus police about hundreds of students parking in their neighborhood, and student neighbors being too loud or failing to manage their lawns and trashKen Burrows, who has lived in College Downs for more than 30 years, is a member of the neighborhood group Friends of Miss Bonnie. The group aims to improve communication among longtime residents of College Downs, students living in College Downs and UNCC administrators. It’s part of the Charlotte Action Research Project, or CHARP, which works to create partnerships between UNCC and marginalized communities.“We’ve done a couple of service projects (with College Downs), and CHARP has tried to activate the history of community,” said Langley. UNCC geography professor Janni Sorensen, the director of CHARP, said the group tries to reduce tensions between long-term residents and students with service projects – such as neighborhood cleanups – and by educating students on how to be better neighbors. The group also created a brochure for student residents to outline neighborhood expectations.Burrows said residents have communicated with Crescent Resources about how the apartments will affect the neighborhood and have succeeded in getting some compromises from the company. Burrows said communication with Crescent will be ongoing.“We’ll have to wait and see what the impact is,” he said. “The conversation will be problem by problem.”
Saturday, Jun. 15, 2013
College Downs residents get friendlier with building project
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