Charlotte City Council approved a redevelopment at the Arboretum Office Park on Monday that many neighbors fear could increase traffic in the area – a concern one council member acknowledged could lead to a “nightmare” if road improvements aren’t made.
Developer Childress Klein plans to change the development from office-only to mixed use, which could include a 50,800 square-foot grocery store (long rumored to be a Publix Super Market), as well as more commercial space. The vote was unanimous, despite several dozen people in the audience holding signs such as “No Groceries” and “Not Walkable” opposing the plan.
The 5.4-acre site is at the southeast corner of Pineville-Matthews Road and Providence Road, a major intersection that often sees congestion at rush hour.
The offices there are more than 30 years old, and the developers have said they need an update to stay current in the market.
City staff estimated the existing office buildings and drive-in bank generate about 2,410 vehicle trips per day. That could more than triple under the rezoning plan, to 8,225 daily vehicle trips, according to city estimates.
“We’re aware of your opposition and we take it very seriously,” council member Ed Driggs, who represents the area, told audience members. “The traffic was a really tough one.”
Driggs said Providence Road could become a “nightmare” if improvements aren’t made. But he said the city couldn’t deny one specific petition due to bigger policy concerns about congestion and road capacity, especially when the rezoning plan was supported by planning staff and the city’s zoning commission.
“It would require us to basically take our rule book and throw it out to say no,” said Driggs.
He said the city’s leadership needs to spend more on road improvements in the area.
“I fault us a little bit. I think we’re behind in recognizing the issues of congestion,” said Driggs. “I can’t even point to any sort of relief that’s in prospect... I don’t think we’re taking into account the full impact of congestion.”