University City

Prosperity Village plan raises fear, excitement

A recent meeting about the city's plan to realign Prosperity Church Road attracted about 200 people from several neighborhoods in Charlotte, Huntersville and Concord.

Some came away from the meeting confident their property values will climb once changes are made to align the road with a planned interchange on the final leg of Interstate 485.

Others say the project in northeast Charlotte threatens stable communities that include seniors. Eastfield Ridge resident Hung Chau is among those who wonder whether the road's new path will claim their homes or compromise safety and the quiet setting in surrounding neighborhoods.

"We are concerned whether this is going to take over our house," said Chau, who potentially could lose some property behind his house to the new road. "If it's not going to take our house, what are we going to have in the back?"

Dozens of residential properties sit within the wide swath city transportation planners have mapped as they consider a number of possible routes for the 0.8-mile realignment, as well as the extension of nearby Ridge Road.

The work zone potentially could include properties in and near Eastfield, Sinclair Place, Eastfield Ridge and Forest Park mobile home park.

The city is in the early planning phase for the project; design, land purchases, bidding and construction would follow.

The city has received a $4.8 million federal grant to help pay for construction and some land purchases. City bonds also will be needed to cover some of the costs. The price tag will be calculated in a later phase.

With the federal grant, the city accepted an obligation to buy land in a way that distributes the burden of displacement equitably among communities in the area.

That means planners must avoid creating a social injustice by taking more land from fragile communities than from other areas.

The city potentially could take land from properties along Goldenblush Creek, Red Clover Lane and part of the mobile home park on Prosperity Church Road.

The city plans to develop multiple routes and take comments at a meeting in spring. A date for the meeting has not been set.

Kimberly Nelson is a resident in the 40 or so mobile homes on Prosperity Church Road. She worries the project could drive up the value of land in the area until families in mobile homes will be pushed out.

Some residents have lived there so long that their additions have become more spacious than their mobile homes, Nelson said.

Still, she is afraid residents will have little protection because they don't own the land beneath their homes.

The owner "could decide to get rid of the mobile home park and sell to the highest bidder or put apartments or condos in here that would more than double his revenue," she said.

Ken Gallo also expects property values to climb in neighborhoods near the new interchange. His home in Prosperity Ridge is farther from the construction zone than many of those who are concerned about the project.

Gallo also looks forward to using new sidewalks, bike lanes and other features that will come to Prosperity Church and Ridge Roads when construction wraps up, possibly in 2014.

He said the interchange will be among the most unique because of the state's plans to build six "roundabouts," or traffic circles, on three streets. The circles will be similar to the one at the Moore's Chapel Road interchange.

The existing Prosperity Church Road, the new realignment and Prosperity Ridge Road each will get two traffic circles.

"I think it's going to make the area more vibrant," Gallo said. But "I can understand anybody who is going to live on (Prosperity Church) having a concern. It's eventually going to lead to an on-ramp."

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