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Dentist plans new office building near Ballantyne

A south Charlotte dentist will go before the Charlotte City Council on Monday to request a site plan amendment to allow a new office building on his property at the corner of Rea Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

He also hopes to construct a park that will be open to all area residents.

Two office buildings already are on the 1.72-acre property, on the east side of Rea Road. The buildings have about a dozen businesses, including Sonny Long’s dental practice.

In 2012, property owners were approved to build an 8,000-square foot building. But Long wants to build a 9,000-square foot building instead, as well as a two-story parking deck.

The building would be dedicated to retail and office use, he said, including a possible coffee shop.

City Planner Solomon Fortune said staff expects to recommend approval to council members.

“Our only outstanding issues are basic design issues,” Fortune said. “Other than that, we recommend it.”

Long, who is a managing partner of the property, said while he’s looking forward to adding the building, he’s most excited about a side project that he already has clearance to construct: a public park

The park would include walking trails, sitting areas, and maybe even some pieces of artwork, Long said. He wants to call it Imagine: The Park at Piper Glen as homage to the Beatles.

He said he got the ideal when he read a quote by John Lennon, a member of the Beatles, a 60s rock group. Lennon was fatally shot in 1980.

“ ‘Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see,’ ” Long said. “Being a Beatles fan, I really loved the quote. I wanted to name the park in his honor.”

Long said he envisions the park being a place where residents can go be in nature and become inspired.

“The vision is to try to keep it as natural as possible and to have this beautiful area with beautiful trees,” said Long, who has operated his practice in the complex for 14 years. “It’s something that I think we could make quite beautiful and make it a place where people can go walk a trail, have a place to sit and have some quiet time.”

Randy Hester, who has known Long since their teen years in Roxboro, will be the landscape architect for the project.

The park will be skinny and long, running parallel to Rea Road. Hester said he hopes the park brings the community together.

“I envision the whole park being a playground, with dozens of places along the trail that absolutely grab your imagination,” said Hester, noting that there might be structures or statues to attract passersby to stop.

Hester said the park may have the added benefit of putting dentist patients at ease before their appointment.

“When you have an appointment, you may be nervous and anxious, especially if you’re a kid,” Hester said. “Being in nature has healing properties. Going into something like nature is probably going to be a treat for a kid having to go to the dentist.”

City Council will hold a public hearing on the building and parking deck project at 6 p.m. on May 19 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. 4th St. Long said he expects the project to cost around $2.5 million.

He said he expects to simultaneously start constructing the buildings and creating the park in late summer or early fall if approved.

“I think the project will be a special asset to people’s lives and Charlotte in general,” he said.

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