Hundreds of new apartments along the Blue Line light-rail extension were approved Tuesday night, despite complaints from Charlotte City Council that an earlier iteration of one of the planned buildings looked like “barracks” or “Soviet architecture.”
The Blue Line extension, a $1.2 billion light-rail line connecting uptown to University City, is set to open in August.
One apartment building that won approval is in the Optimist Park neighborhood. Ohio-based Miller-Valentine Group plans to build up to 290 apartments on North Davidson Street, in one large building up to 75 feet tall.
The 3-acre site, bounded by North Davidson, East 21st and East 22nd streets, will be located near the Parkwood Avenue light rail stop. The land is currently used as office and warehouse space. City staff estimates the number of daily vehicle trips would increase from an average of 225 to 2,130 after the apartments are built.
As part of the plan, Miller-Valentine has agreed to donate $10,000 for a bicycle-sharing station nearby. The apartment building would also include up to 3,500 square feet of ground-floor space for shops, offices or other nonresidential uses.
The Miller-Valentine apartments will be some of the more than 2,000 new rental units planned or under construction next to the Blue Line between uptown and 36th Street in NoDa, an influx that’s set to reshape neighborhoods such as Optimist Park.
In University City, Baltimore-based ATAPCO plans to redevelop an aging office building into 280 apartments next to the Blue Line, on University Executive Park Drive off North Tryon Street. The apartments would include 6,000 square feet of nonresidential uses such as shops or restaurants on the ground floor. The five-story building would be a so-called “Texas doughnut,” with a parking structure wrapped by apartments.
Council members criticized the proposal at a public hearing last year. Claire Fallon was the most critical member, comparing the original plan to “barracks” and “Soviet architecture.” Other council members were concerned about the apartment building’s density and size, though Greg Phipps, who represents the area, pointed out that the plan is in line with guidelines calling for denser developments around light rail stations.
At Tuesday’s meeting, she said the developer had addressed some of her concerns and won her “yes” vote.
“I kind of hassled this developer because of the aesthetics,” said Fallon. “They're not perfect, but it’s a lot better.”