Zoning change causes concerns
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Friday, Jan. 17, 2014

Zoning change causes concerns

Some people are concerned a retirement community proposed for a site near them would negatively affect the area’s residential character.

Hawthorn Retirement wants approximately 10.01 acres on the east side of Providence Road between Lakeside Drive and Kuykendall Road rezoned to allow a three-story, 134-suite retirement community.

“I really think it’s a negative to the area on many fronts. It’s going to destroy the look and feel the neighborhood,” said Shawna Livingston, who lives on Squirrel Hollow Lane. “I can assure you that we’ll be looking for a new home if this passes.”

The property currently is zoned single family residential.

Mark Lowen, a Lenity Architecture land-use manager working with Hawthorn, said the property is under contract. The closing is contingent on the city granting the zoning change and some other permitting approvals.

Hawthorn wants the building to be 117,500 square feet. The project’s concept letter states the exterior siding will include stucco and horizontal siding with brick and stone.

The property will cost about $12 million to build, said Dan Roach, the architect and project manager. Once complete, the facility will employ about 18 people, half of whom probably will be full-time.

The building would not be a medical facility but would fall under the category of congregate care or independent living, Lowen said.

The units would not have kitchens. All meals would be covered in the rent and be provided in the common areas, Lowen said.

Staff would be onsite 24 hours a day. The monthly rent payment would cover the private room, all services and utilities.

In addition to three prepared meals daily, services would include housekeeping, laundering, private bus transportation and various activities.

About 30 percent of the building would be common areas, including a multipurpose room, beauty shop, crafts room, TV room, media/computer room, movie theater, lounges and an exercise room.

“Probably one of the most popular onsite activities is walking,” he said. “We’ll have walking paths throughout the property.”

Floor plans would range from studios to two bedrooms. Rent likely would range from $2,800 to $3,200 a month, said Lowen.

The concept letter stated that Hawthorn’s typical resident is a single person in their 80s. About 10 percent of the rooms will be rented by couples. The letter also stated that fewer than 25 percent of residents will be driving their own cars.

Hawthorn has about 70 senior-housing properties throughout the U.S., said Lowen.

Lowen said the Vancouver, Wash.-based company wants to build in Charlotte because the city’s supply of retirement communities is inadequate. “There’s clearly a demand for this type of housing or we wouldn’t be here,” said Lowen. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand.”

But residents in Providence Plantation and other neighborhoods question whether those developments should be so close to single-family neighborhoods.

Linda Wolf, who lives on Wood Valley Lane, said she is concerned about increased traffic and potential water runoff. She also is concerned about how much noise the development would generate.

“It isn’t the fear of change, because change is natural and change comes,” she said. “It’s just that this seems really inappropriate for that corner.”

During a community meeting Jan. 7, developers presented their plans to residents.

“We had an excellent turnout, with standard neighborhood concerns about the traffic and how this development will impact the area,” said Lowen.

John Kinley, a Charlotte city planner, said staff is asking clarification questions mostly about Hawthorn’s application.

“We don’t have an official recommendation at this point,” Kinley said. “At this point, they’re kind of slowing things down a little bit too, based on the feedback they received from the community.”

Lowen confirmed developers have requested a delay of their City Council hearing to allow them to meet with residents again. He said the follow-up community meeting hasn’t been scheduled.

The public hearing date for the project is March 17, according to city records.

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero

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