Big Crescent development on Providence Road faces questions

Crescent Communities is planning to build a 72-acre mixed-use development next to Waverly, which is under construction on Providence Road just south of I-485.
Crescent Communities is planning to build a 72-acre mixed-use development next to Waverly, which is under construction on Providence Road just south of I-485.

Crescent Communities faced some skepticism Monday night from Charlotte City Council about its plan to build hundreds of houses and apartments, along with retail and restaurants, on Providence Road just south of Interstate 485.

The development would join Waverly and Charlotte Golf Links, two other large mixed-use developments that are set to bring thousands of new residents, a Whole Foods, a hotel, offices and retail space to the area. Crescent’s 72-acre tract is adjacent to Waverly, which is under construction.

Altogether, the three developments would bring more than 2,100 housing units – including apartments and single-family houses –to that stretch of Providence. About 356 acres of vacant or unused land would be under development.

That intensity is making some City Council members uneasy. City staff said the development will likely add congestion to an already busy section of Providence Road.

“I think people are looking forward to the amenities that this offers. There is a lot of anxiety in the area about traffic,” said City Council member Ed Driggs, a Republican who represents the area.

“It can be a fairly congested area now. So for me, the question is whether this is too much, from a land-use perspective, in that area,” said Michael Barnes, a Democrat, during Monday night’s zoning hearing. “It starts becoming kind of ridiculous at some point.”

Charlotte-based Crescent and the other developers contend that since they’re building mixes of uses – apartments, grocery stores, shops, restaurants – in connected, walkable communities, people who live there won’t need to drive as much. That should cut down on the traffic generated versus a subdivision of single-family houses, like much of the surrounding area.

According to a staff analysis of traffic impacts, the Crescent development would generate 8,100 vehicle trips a day. That’s more than the 2,100 daily trips the property could generate if it were developed as a subdivision with 217 single-family houses, for which it is currently zoned.

That’s on top of 32,000 additional trips expected from the Golf Links development and 19,000 expected from Waverly. The developers have agreed to add more lanes to Providence, widening it to six through the area, add turn lanes, widen Ardrey Kell Road and add more traffic signals to help deal with the added traffic.

“There are significant transportation impacts on the way,” said Charlotte Department of Transportation division manager Mike Davis. “The net total of the impacts and the improvements still leave us in a condition where congestion will be expected to increase.”

A “foodie”-driven development

Michael Tubridy, a Crescent executive, explained some of the concept for “Crescent Providence Farm,” as the development is being called. Much of the development would be focused around “foodie” culture, which Crescent thinks is a major cultural force now.

“It’s kind of a unique idea that we are putting forward in this development,” Tubridy said. “We see this programming going throughout the development and hopefully spreading throughout the other developments and really turning this area of South Charlotte into a hot foodie scene.”

Events and amenities at the development could include things like cooking clubs, direct pathways to and delivery from Whole Foods at adjacent Waverly, demonstration kitchens and a community CSA. Other ideas brought up at his presentation included events such as a community pig roast or “Iron Chef”-style competition.

“We believe in the power of food as a source of happiness,” as well as community-building, Tubridy said.

The development would include 600 residential units, including multifamily and single-family, as well as a 180-room hotel. In addition, there would be up to 30,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.

LaWana Mayfield, a Democrat, said she was worried about the amount of upscale new housing being built, and the increasing difficulty of finding housing many workers can afford.

“We’re having a lot of workforce housing concerns, with all this amazing new development and the price point of that,” she said.

City Council will likely vote on the proposed plan at their October zoning meeting.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo