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A HUGE new development is planned between the Charlotte airport and Catawba River

Planes take off and land in a cloudy sky at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport on Friday July 3, 2015.  It’s beginning to look like the dry start of summer may continue, despite expected showers and thunderstorms Thursday and Friday. A seasonal outlook by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says drought is likely to develop in central North Carolina through September. The Catawba River basin including Charlotte is in the lowest stage of drought, a water-management board said Thursday.
Planes take off and land in a cloudy sky at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport on Friday July 3, 2015. It’s beginning to look like the dry start of summer may continue, despite expected showers and thunderstorms Thursday and Friday. A seasonal outlook by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says drought is likely to develop in central North Carolina through September. The Catawba River basin including Charlotte is in the lowest stage of drought, a water-management board said Thursday.

This is going to be huge. Like, massive. We’re not talking any old mixed-use development. Think Ballantyne or SouthPark. Huge.

Observer development reporter Ely Portillo broke the story yesterday that Crescent Communities and Lincoln Harris plan to transform a huge chunk of wooded, untouched land between the airport and the river into thousands of homes, offices, shops, hotels, parks and a waterfront.

massive new development

“This is sort of an inevitable place for it to occur,” Harris told the Observer. “There’s plenty of pictures of SouthPark with the cows still out there. There’s plenty of pictures with the farmland at Ballantyne too. This is the evolution of how Charlotte has grown and how it’s expanded.”

Details on what’s being tentatively called the “River District”:

– Tthe largest development planned in Charlotte, taking up 1,300 acres.

– 4,000 apartments and single-family homes.

– 500,000 square feet of shops, restaurant and retail space.

– 8 million square feet of office space.

– A public waterfront for people to gather and enjoy the river.

– About 40 percent of the land will be preserved as open space.

Timeline

– Crescent and Lincoln Harris have filed for rezoning with the city of Charlotte. A hearing would likely be held this fall.

– A lot has to happen before City Council votes, like hearings with neighbors and community members, and working with city planning staff to review the proposal.

– The full development will take decades to complete, Brian Leary, president of Crescent’s mixed-use division. It’s a process, and won’t be one single, monolithic project.

Challenges

– The area is rough, with streams and uneven topography.

– Sewer and other utilities need to be extended to the site.

– There aren’t a ton of people out there, so the developers are trying to lure people to an area of Charlotte that people don’t associate with a thriving neighborhood.

The appeal of the area

“I was talking to an investor. I said, ‘You’re in New York. This comes across your desk: Over 1,000 acres, next to the seventh-busiest airport, on the beltway of one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and along a fantastic river. Do you turn the page?” said Leary. “He said yeah.”

For more about the planned development, read Ely Portillo’s full story.

Photo: Diedra Laird/Charlotte Observer

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