Levine seeks 285-foot hotel at midtown near Metropolitan

Levine Properties is seeking to rezone 1.3 acres adjacent to the Metropolitan development for a 285-foot high building, which would be one of the city’s tallest outside of the Interstate 277 loop.

Charlotte’s City Council held a public hearing about the rezoning Monday night. Some residents who live in the existing condos at the Metropolitan complained about the project, saying it is too big and would block their views.

Residents have filed a protest petition. If it’s validated by city staff, the rezoning would require a supermajority of nine council members, with the mayor voting, for approval.

Karen Combs, who said she was the first buyer in the Metropolitan, said the tower would ruin the view from her balcony.

“I would be looking into six floors of parking deck,” she told council members Monday night. “What used to be my view, and what was sold to me, will now be a parking deck.”

She said the city shouldn’t allow a skyscraper to adjoin the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

“This is completely different from what we were told would be there,” Combs said. “The people who live in this building are very upset. That’s not what we were told.”

The tower would include as many as 155 apartments or condos and a 175-room hotel. Representatives for the developer said it would be 25 stories tall.

By comparison, the Arlington condo tower in South End, also known as the “Pink Building,” is 310 feet tall.

Keith McVean, an attorney representing Levine Properties, said Monday the tower would be a “signature building.” He said the side of the tower that is adjacent to the greenway would have glass walls to make it blend better with the green space.

City staff recommended council members approve the rezoning. The request is consistent with the city’s Midtown Morehead Cherry Area Plan, a planning document for how the area is supposed to grow.

The tower would be built on the southeast corner of Metropolitan Avenue, South Kings Drive and Baxter Street.

The city’s master plan for the area allows a high-rise building on the parcel, said Brian Nicholson, director of development and construction for Levine Properties.

“When those folks bought their condos (in the Metropolitan), that was always the plan,” he said. “That’s nothing new.”

Galleria Partners I, a company affiliated with Levine Properties, bought the property from developer Peter Pappas’ Midtown Redevelopment Partners LLC in 2011 for $2.1 million.

Deed to the property passed to another Levine-affiliated firm, Metropolitan Residential, in 2012, county property records show. That company’s name was later changed to Golden Triangle No. 2.

The current zoning would allow a mix of uses, including retail, offices and residential. But the existing zoning would cap the height of any building at 250 feet.

Council member Patsy Kinsey, who represents the area, said she is concerned about the extra height.

“Yikes,” Kinsey said when the building’s height was discussed. “The first comment I made to Mr. Levine was, ‘It’s too high,’ ” Kinsey said.

At-large council member Vi Lyles said she is concerned that the hotel would worsen congestion on Kings Drive.

But David Howard, an at-large member, said the developer could build a 250-foot tower without a rezoning.

“To put that into context, it can already be 22 or 23 stories,” Howard said.

McVean said a hotel hasn’t agreed yet to occupy the tower.

“We have met with some folks,” he said. “If it’s approved, we would move forward and identify a flag.”

Charlotte-area hotels have bounced back from the recession and are thriving. As of December, they were on pace to have their best year financially – even eclipsing 2012, when the city hosted the Democratic National Convention.

At least four new hotels are planned in or near uptown, according to a Charlotte Center City Partners report.

The Charlotte Knights have said a new hotel will be built adjacent to their new uptown stadium, and a developer has said an Embassy Suites will be built across East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Two other hotels have been proposed for Stonewall Street, between Tryon Street and Caldwell Street.

Elsewhere in the city, veteran Charlotte developers Allen Tate Jr. and John Crosland Jr. announced Tuesday that they are working on a 300-room hotel project on a parcel on Sharon Road, just behind the Sharon Corners Shopping Center. They hope to complete it in early 2016.

The city still needs more hotel rooms, Nicholson of Levine Properties said Tuesday.

“Not only is there demand,” he said, “but we have an exceptional site.”

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