City News

In Myers Park, a tiff looms

With its classical houses and tree-lined streets, Myers Park offers residents and visitors a somewhat historical look at Charlotte.

One portion of the neighborhood primarily filled with condominium and apartment buildings, though, has pitted those trying to preserve the character of Myers Park against those trying to take advantage of a liberally zoned area.

The Myers Park Homeowners Association submitted a rezoning request in November to change 40-plus acres around Selwyn and Roswell avenues. The rezoning was originally scheduled for a decision this summer, but has been delayed until October, at the earliest, to give more time to discuss options.

The association wants to change land zoned for up to 22 residential units per acre to a maximum of eight units per acre – to help protect the neighborhood from the possible construction of tall condo towers. Developers and other landowners say the zoning has existed for years, and they'd lose money in trying to sell a rezoned piece of property.

“In theory, somebody's R-22 is more valuable than R-8,” said Solomon Fortune with the Charlotte planning department. “Somebody's losing out if that decision goes through.”

The issue arose after The Boulevard Company proposed an 11-story condo tower near the intersection of Selwyn and Queens Road West. The area already has nearly 40 condo or apartment buildings, including the seven-floor Queen's Oaks, but MPHA President Tom Masters worried that the proposed tower would dominate the scenery and set a dangerous standard.

“If you come in here and start putting in 150-foot condos,” Masters said, “it's going to very quickly destroy the character of Myers Park. The only thing in our toolbox that we could use was try to rezone it.”

The majority of land around the proposed area allows for five units or less per acre. Masters, after talking with the city, said the proposed portion was zoned to allow 22 units only because Selwyn was expected to develop into a commercial/residential mix.

“It hasn't happened that way,” he said.

David Smith, whose company owns about a half-acre along Selwyn, said a rezoning isn't fair to landowners. His property with 1950s-era condo buildings has been on the market for six months. He's concerned that potential buyers would shy away from buying property that could only hold approximately four units if the rezoning were to pass.

“A lot of people are asking the same things,” Smith said. “Is this down-zoning going to go through? Is it happening soon?”

Several calls to The Boulevard Company weren't returned, but Masters said that many others in the area decided against signing anything that would support the rezoning effort.

While talks continue among the MPHA, developers, residents and city representatives, some residents such as Jessy Page, who lives in a condo near The Boulevard Company's proposed tower, like the look of the area. Plus, Page wonders about the availability of affordable units like her own if the older condo buildings were bought and redeveloped.

“I completely understand that Charlotte's booming,” she said, “but there are other places to build.”