Providence Road mixed-use project appears on track

The Charlotte City Council appears likely to approve a rezoning Monday for 89.5 acres off Providence Road that would allow the construction of Waverly, a mixed-use development that would be one of the largest commercial projects in the area since the recession.

Crosland Southeast and Childress Klein Properties are spearheading the project, which would occupy part of the Matthews Family Farm, between Interstate 485 and Ardrey Kell Road.

The developers have proposed 565,000 square feet of offices and retail, a 150-room hotel and 561 apartments and houses. Waverly is designed to be a walkable community, and the developers have touted it as a “town center” for the area.

Crosland and Childress Klein announced in February the anchor for the project will be a Whole Foods, which would be the grocer’s third location in the Charlotte area.

The project comes as the local economy appears to be strengthening. The Charlotte area’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in February, down from 7.3 percent in October, and several developments are moving forward, including proposals for new office towers uptown on Stonewall Street across from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The city’s planning department said the development is “inconsistent” with the Providence Road/I-485 area plan, a document created to guide how the area develops.

The land is currently zoned for residential, with three units per acre. Waverly would have more than six residential units per acre, in addition to the office and retail space.

Under the current zoning, office and retail are not permitted on the site.

However, city staff recommended the rezoning be approved. In its write-up for City Council members, staff said Waverly’s design would “create a well-integrated multi-use community.” The city added that Waverly would serve as a unique “town center.”

Perhaps the biggest impact from Waverly will be to traffic congestion on Providence Road, which was recently widened to two lanes in each direction.

Providence Road at I-485 handles 42,000 vehicle trips per day, according to 2012 N.C. Department of Transportation traffic counts. South of Ardrey Kell Road, Providence carries 27,000 daily trips.

Under the current zoning, a developer could build three homes per acre, which would generate an additional 2,600 vehicle trips per day, according to an analysis by the Charlotte Department of Transportation. Waverly would create 19,400 new trips, according to the city.

During the zoning committee’s discussion about Waverly, city staff said the developers would be building an internal street network inside the development, which the city said would handle local traffic stemming from the project. The city said that signalization improvements on Providence Road would help traffic flow.

The development will include extending Ardrey Kell Road to the east.

Council member Ed Driggs, who represents the Ballantyne area, said he expects the project will be approved.

“It looks really good to pass,” he said.

The Zoning Committee, an advisory group, approved the project by a 7-0 vote in March.

The owners of a nearby pre-school had opposed the project because of concerns about how Waverly would impact how people access the school. But that issue appears to have been settled.

There has been some concern over traffic but no significant opposition from nearby residents.

Julianne McCollum, who is handling communications for the developer, said construction could begin this summer.

Council members Monday are also scheduled to consider a separate rezoning for the Cherry neighborhood.

Stonehunt LLC, which includes developer Stoney Sellars, is asking to rezone 5.71 acres on the west side of Luther Street.

Stonehunt has proposed building 39 single-family homes and two duplexes on the site.

City staff recommended the project be approved. But the Zoning Committee voted 5-1 against the project.