The developers of the planned Bryton residential, retail and commercial community are about to begin the first phase of the massive project.
Work can begin now that two miles of rail line have been moved within the 500-acre development and a new line almost completed to accommodate future commuter rail.
Bryton one day could include 4,000 homes, more than 1million square feet of retail space and more than 1million square feet of office/business park development, hotels and medical offices. The project is at N.C. 115 and Alexanderana Road.
Mayor Jill Swain, Mecklenburg County commissioner Karen Bentley of Huntersville and Charlotte Area Transit System interim chief executive John Muth were among those attending the developers' announcement last week that the project's first phase could start in the next few months.
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That phase will likely involve developing retail space, said Donna Ashcraft Pressley, who assists American Asset Corp. with marketing the project.
American Asset owns the commercial and mixed-use land in Bryton. Rhein Medall Communities owns the land that homes will go on.
As the developers assembled the 30 parcels that make up Bryton, they said, they saw the potential to move the tracks to run through the middle of their land.
Getting that done, they said, involved cooperation among officials with the town, Mecklenburg County, CATS, the N.C. Department of Transportation and Norfolk Southern railroad.
Moving the roughly 2 miles of Norfolk Southern tracks - the same ones that will serve the future CATS north line - improves access to Bryton and nearby land and allows for widening about 2 miles of N.C. 115, the developers said. The widening is needed to accommodate traffic generated by a new I-485 interchange.
The move also eliminates a curve in the tracks to improve safety on the line. It also solidifies the site of the future Hambright Rail Stop in a central location in Bryton, the developers said.
"Relocating almost 2 miles of rail line and building the new line to accommodate the future transit corridor, as well as the future rail stop at Bryton, was one of the most complicated infrastructure projects we have ever planned and implemented," Paul Herndon, president of American Asset Corp., said in a news release last week.
"It is exciting to see this coming to completion, and it is going to open up the core of the Bryton project."
Herndon said he knows of no other mixed-use project of Bryton's size actively under construction in the Southeast.
"We all read the same papers and know that the economy has slowed down and many projects have either been put on hold or dropped completely," Herndon said. "So Bryton is not only unique in its size and complexity, but it has also stayed the course throughout this economic slowdown."
The developers describe Bryton's master plan as creating a "city within a city," similar to American Asset Corp.'s 2,000-acre Brier Creek project in Raleigh.