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From farmland to subdivisions, Steele Creek’s march of change continues

Steele Creek is one of the fastest-growing parts of Charlotte, where subdivisions with thousands of new homes, apartment buildings and an outlet mall have sprung up in the past decade on farmland, pastures and woods.

Now, another stretch of empty land is moving closer to development. Charlotte City Council held a hearing Monday on a plan to build a major new development off Steele Creek Road south of Interstate 485. Developer Charter Properties and builder Pulte Homes are seeking to rezone the property for 292 apartments and 305 townhouse on the site, for a total of 597 dwellings on the north side Brown-Grier Road, near the intersection with Steele Creek Road.

The 77-acre site is near the Charlotte Premium Outlets, fast-growing Berewick master-planned development, apartments and other subdivisions sprouting up across Steele Creek. The site on Brown-Grier Road has been owned by the Grier family for generations, and is mostly farmland.

“This is an area that is transitioning from more rural to more urban and suburban,” said Charlotte city staff member Laura Harmon.

Nanci De Felippe, of the Steele Creek Residents Association, said neighbors were partially supportive of the plan, though they would prefer fewer apartments in the area and are worried about growing congestion in Steele Creek. They want to see the development capped at a lower density, allowing about 460 residences on the site.

“We want development in this area,” said De Felippe. “We want it to come in the appropriate way.”

As with many developments, traffic is a major concern for nearby residents.

“The traffic has just become horrific,” said Nyiesha Dulin, a 20-year resident of the area. “It’s just become a bear in the morning.”

John Carmichael, an attorney representing the developers, said they would work to address traffic concerns with neighbors and the city. John Porter, of Charter Properties, said they’re planning $2 million worth of road improvements in the area, such as adding more turn lanes, providing space for widening Brown-Grier Road and giving up land for the planned Dixie River Road extension.

“We understand that is necessary,” said Porter.

City council member Julie Eiselt pointed out that Olympic High School and its feeder schools are already overcrowded, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“Elementary and middle schools are all over capacity,” Eiselt said. “I’m just struggling with that.”

Council member Patsy Kinsey also criticized the townhouse designs, which she said feature a “big old honking garage.”

“It looks like a huge garage with a little house built above it,” said Kinsey. “It’s still very disturbing. It’s just not attractive.”

A Pulte executive said the developers would include design elements such as translucent windows and hardware on the doors to help break up the appearance and make them more attractive.

City Council will vote on the plan in the coming months.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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