Efforts to develop a more unified voice for residents in SouthPark grappling with an influx of new development could take a step forward this week, when a group of local homeowner associations gather to discuss ways to deal with the growth.
SouthPark, of course is still seeing a major building boom: In addition to the 2,400 apartments underway or proposed in SouthPark, development firm ZOM proposed a 266-unit new apartment and retail building last week at 4401 Barclay Downs Drive. That brings the total number of new apartments planned to almost 2,700, in addition to the new office buildings and hotels headed to the area.
The Barclay Downs HOA has organized a meeting on Wednesday to get members of about 20 neighborhoods around the central SouthPark commercial district. The initial meeting is only open to HOA board members and other neighborhood leaders, but they’ll be discussing how to best involve surrounding residents and have a voice in planning for growth – and the problems that come with growth, especially traffic.
The backdrop to the meeting is an Urban Land Institute study earlier this year commissioned by the city of Charlotte looking at ways to develop SouthPark as a more walkable, less congested area. In addition to recommendations such as creating a more connected street grid with fewer choke points around main arterials (think Fairview and Sharon roads), starting a circulator bus service and building a promenade ringing SouthPark mall, they also recommended creating a SouthPark group that can speak with a unified voice.
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“There is no visible face of SouthPark. It’s not clear who’s driving the bus,” said John Macomber, a Harvard professor who participated in the study.
Businesses and commercial real estate owners have already started discussions about creating a “SouthPark Partnership” of some kind. Residents and local homeowners want a seat at the table as well.
Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble and Charlotte City Council member Kenny Smith, who represents the area, are set to present at the meeting.
So, what would you like to see happen in terms of a SouthPark Partnership? What do you think such a group should make their priority, and what do you think their message should be?