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South Charlotte zoning trend: Retail trumps residential

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/23/16/58/1avYfL.Em.138.jpeg|316
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    In rezoning application 2014-025, Toringdon Future Devleopment LLC and Trinity Capital Advisors LLC want to amend a site plan that was approved in 2010.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/23/16/58/fwM1I.Em.138.jpeg|237
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    In rezoning application 2014-025, Toringdon Future Devleopment LLC and Trinity Capital Advisors LLC want to amend a site plan that was approved in 2010.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/23/16/58/fiAAw.Em.138.jpeg|197
    - COURTESY OF SHERRIE CHAFFIN
    A rendering of the office building that Trinity Capital Advisors is marketing for its property in the Toringdon Business Park. The project would include a hotel and retail space.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/23/16/58/P3VXb.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - Elisabeth Arriero - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    George Macon, a developer with Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, wants 4.65 acres at Ardrey Kell and Marvin roads rezoned from residential to medical and professional office.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/23/16/58/1aAUOr.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - Elisabeth Arriero - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    George Macon, a developer with Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, wants 4.65 acres at Ardrey Kell and Marvin roads rezoned from residential to medical and professional office.

At least two developers in south Charlotte have requested zoning changes from residential to office or retail, moves that could be signaling changes in demand on the local real estate market, some experts say.

In one petition, Toringdon Future Development LLC and Trinity Capital Advisors have requested that the previously approved townhomes for sale on 13 acres at North Community House Road and Interstate 485 be removed and that additional retail space be added.

In another application, George Macon, a developer with Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, wants 4.65 acres at Ardrey Kell and Marvin roads rezoned from residential to medical and professional office.

“That has been coming through quite a bit,” said Charlotte City Planner Sonja Sanders. “We’re seeing plans refurbished to amend some of the uses so it works better in today’s market.”

In zoning application 2014-025, Toringdon Future Devleopment LLC and Trinity Capital Advisors LLC want to amend a site plan approved in 2010. That conditional zoning included 17 townhomes and a hotel.

But in July 2012, a joint venture between Trinity Capital, Stockbridge Capital Group and Madison International Realty acquired the property. That group is asking to replace the 17 townhomes with about 13,000 square feet of retail space. The petitioners say it would be a better fit for the current economic climate, said Sherrie Chaffin, director of development for Trinity Capital Advisors.

They also want to move the previously approved 120-room hotel to the east on the property.

The current zoning, allowing about 190,000 square feet of additional office space, would remain the same, Chaffin said. “We’re requesting a rezoning petition to more adequately develop the property,” Chaffin said.

The 13 acres is comprised of 12 acres of vacant land and 1 acre of existing parking-lot space within the Toringdon Office Park. That six-building office park is in the Ballantyne area.

In zoning petition 2014-003, Macon has requested that property zoned single-family residential in the Ballantyne area be rezoned to allow 50,000 square feet of medical and professional office space.

Macon, who developed the office portion of Blakeney, said he requested the change in response to the demand for office space. The site is between N.C. 521 and Providence Road and is close to major areas such as Blakeney.

“It’s a very desirable place to live and the population is just growing out there, so we’re just trying to follow the residential growth,” Macon said.

The project would include professional services, possibly a family practice, a dental office, dermatologist and lawyer’s office. City Planner Solomon Fortune said the application is “pretty straightforward.” He said he doesn’t see any major issues with the application.

Fortune said some residents had contacted him with concerns the property would include retail, such as gas stations.

Planners said they’ve seen an increase in zoning applications requesting a change from residential to office or commercial in recent months. Fortune said the activity may be driven by residents’ desire to work closer to home.

But Sanders said developers also may be responding to a “market reality” after the real-estate market bubble burst: She said many high-dollar residential neighborhoods were approved before the market tanked in 2008.

Sanders said that because developers often don’t start building immediately after receiving approval, many may now be finding it difficult to secure funding for high-end projects.

Chaffin agreed the economic climate has changed developers’ strategies. She said the single-family home market has suffered in recent years, driving many developers to seek different uses.

“We feel like the market is better served with a combination of office, retail and hotel,” said Chaffin of the Toringdon Business Park project.

There will be a public hearing on both zoning applications March 17, according to city records.

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