After tough fight, new apartments approved for Elizabeth neighborhood

One of the planned apartment buildings by Faison at Seventh Street and Caswell Road.
One of the planned apartment buildings by Faison at Seventh Street and Caswell Road.

More than a year after Charlotte apartment developer Faison filed plans to build apartments at a prominent corner in Elizabeth, City Council approved the idea – albeit in a much-reduced form.

Council members voted 8-2 to approve the plan for up to 100 apartments at the corner of East Seventh Street and North Caswell Road. Faison has been under contract on the 1.7-acre parcel, which is currently home to Jackalope Jacks bar and restaurant, for about a year and a half.

The proposal has stirred controversy in the neighborhood. The Elizabeth Community Association initially opposed the plans, which at first called for up to 200 apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail in a single building. Neighbors were concerned about the increased density and traffic in the area. Faison reduced the number of apartments to 123, but still didn’t win support.

City Council members also criticized the way the apartments looked, including Democrat Claire Fallon, who asked in April, “Can we find some architects in this town that don’t design buildings to look like a factory or a barracks?”

On Monday, some council members said they were unhappy with the idea of more density along Seventh Street, but that they would support the plan. Fallon said she liked the architectural changes, which she said led to “something that looks more like Charlotte should look.”

Julie Eiselt said she was a “disgruntled yes” vote. The city should push for more bike and pedestrian access in busy corridors like Seventh Street, she said.

“We know it’s creating more congestion,” she said of denser development.

Council members Patsy Kinsey and LaWana Mayfield, both Democrats, voted against the rezoning request.

“Traffic is horrendous,” said Kinsey. “It’s still too tall...It’s going to create a domino effect.”

The final plan, after several modifications by the developer, will allow up to 100 apartments and 30,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. Instead of building a single, 60-foot tall building with an internal parking deck, Faison will develop two buildings, 48 and 58 feet tall, with a two-level parking deck in the back.

The area is undergoing a wave of development, as are many close-in neighborhoods in Charlotte. Across Seventh Street from the Faison site, a 91-unit apartment building is under construction.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo