New plans for Common Market, Food Truck Friday site puts retail on all three corners

The developers planning to build a new office building at the site of the Common Market and Food Truck Friday in South End unveiled new plans Tuesday that will put more retail on the site’s corners, potentially assuaging some critics.

The high-profile project will bring hundreds of well-paying jobs but replace two sites that have become beloved in booming South End. Initial site plans for the 2.3-acre triangular lot at Camden and South Tryon streets drew disapproval from many community members, who said the building would be bland and set the retail back too far from the street with a large pedestrian plaza.

“The feedback we got back is that open space is less important than maintaining a good strong urban edge,” said Turan Duda, an architect designing the project. “I heard words like it looks very suburban and not urban.”

A wave of redevelopment is reshaping some of Charlotte’s close-in neighborhoods, such as South End, Plaza Midwood and NoDa. That’s fueling anxiety that local businesses which give neighborhoods their character will be displaced.

A revised site plan calls for eliminating the pedestrian plaza and putting ground floor retail on all three corners at Tryon, Camden and Park Avenue. The site would also include a “pocket park” on the Camden side, and a seating area for a cafe at Tryon and Camden streets.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into how these three corners will be identified,” said Duda. “We’re going to continue to develop the design...We want this to feel urban.”

At its tallest, the building would be seven floors of office space over a floor of ground level retail and below-ground parking.

Plans for development on the site started this summer, when Austin-based Dimensional Fund Advisors said it plans to build an East Coast headquarters in Charlotte, bringing 316 jobs and $105 million worth of investment. The financial services firm was lured with $18 million worth of state and local incentives.

The rezoning plan from Cousins Properties, which is developing the building for DFA, is set for a hearing next month before Charlotte City Council. If the rezoning is approved, construction could start in late 2016.

One community member asked whether chain restaurants would dominate the new building, which could have up to 25,000 square feet of retail space. Tim Hendricks, a Cousins executive, said getting unique and local businesses would be a priority.

“I don’t envision this is going to be strip-center retail,” he said. “It doesn’t work...The Quizno’s of the world don’t make it...The likelihood of having a chain there is very, very remote.”

Not all who attended the community meeting were happy. One said the development is “sterilizing” the area.

The site is home to several older buildings and popular, locally owned businesses, including Common Market, salons and other shops. The vacant part of the lot is used for the weekly Food Truck Friday gathering, which draws hundreds.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo