SouthPark mall loses bid to stop new round of apartments and shops from moving in

Planned new apartments in SouthPark.
Planned new apartments in SouthPark.

Charlotte City Council approved a plan Monday night to build hundreds of new apartments, along with shops and restaurants, in a busy part of SouthPark.

The project by Florida-based ZOM Development had picked up a powerful and unusual opponent: SouthPark mall owner Simon Property Group, itself a major developer. The mall’s owners said they were opposed to the plan because of concerns about traffic.

ZOM agreed to reduce the number of apartments from 266 to 246. The development on Barclay Downs Drive at Bulfinch Road will also include up to 15,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. Adjacent to SouthPark mall and its parking lots, the site is currently home to an office building.

Planning staff estimate that the new development will generate about 3,715 daily vehicle trips, roughly six times more than the office building. Christopher Kouri, an attorney representing the mall’s owners, said the added traffic would be “detrimental to the mall.”

“Beyond our own interest, we also believe this is not in the best interest of the overall SouthPark area, and moving forward on this development misses an opportunity for a better development,” Kouri said at a hearing last month. He said there is already “gridlock at the holidays” and worsening congestion in SouthPark.

SouthPark mall isn’t just an upscale shopping destination – it’s also a major local economic force. The 1.6 million square-foot mall pays about $6.5 million in property taxes and generates more than $40 million worth of sales taxes each year, SouthPark’s representative said.

As developers add more density and new apartments to SouthPark, traffic has become a particular point of concern. There are 2,365 pending apartments approved for construction in SouthPark, according to the city. Adding ZOM’s 246 units will bring that number to 2,611 units.

2,365Apartments approved for construction in SouthPark

246Additional apartments in ZOM proposal

ZOM’s representatives countered that they are building in a dense area in the core of SouthPark, not adding apartments to a neighborhood or location that will abut single-family houses. The developers have committed to putting $225,000 into a fund to build sidewalks on Barclay Downs Drive.

The Barclay Downs Homeowners’ Associations said they support the plan, and Charlotte city staff recommended City Council approve the proposal.

“We don’t believe the scale of this project is out of kilter with other projects around this community,” said Jeff Brown, a lawyer representing the developers. “We’ve worked very hard with the community.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo