University City

Developer addresses residents' concerns

As the former president of the Alumni Association of UNC Charlotte, Lindsey McAlpine understands the trouble the university goes through when trying to keep up with the growth of the student body.

McAlpine, now chief executive of McAlpine Co., is working with the university to provide housing for its more than 25,000 students.

"We're pretty in touch with the growth and the statistics," he said. "We've owned this site for about 10 years, and we were waiting for the right time. We feel that it's the right time for us and the university to have some private development to help with the university's growth," McAlpine said.

The company plans to begin construction on a 250-unit apartment complex this summer and to have the student-only facility completed by the beginning of the fall 2013 semester.

Before beginning the $40 million project, McAlpine Co. had to submit a rezoning petition to the city of Charlotte asking to change the 6-acre piece of land from a residential area to a mixed-use development district. When it first submitted the petition, the city of Charlotte and some nearby residents raised concerns, but the company hopes it hs smoothed over all issues.

"At the (public) hearing, my clients were primarily concerned about the high density and the height of the proposed apartment building directly adjacent to their property lines," said David Murray, the lawyer representing the University Terrace and University Terrace North apartments.

"However, after the hearing, the developers presented us with a new plan, which reduced the height of the building and moved it away from the property lines."

The new plan includes reducing the six-story building to five stories and moving it back more from the main road. Besides the concerns of the University Terrace owners, the Charlotte City Council had concerns with excess parking.

The original plan was for parking decks to be separate from the apartment buildings, but now there will be one deck, with apartments on its outside so the deck is invisible from the outside. Additional surface lots will provide other parking options.

"We think it is very important for each of our residents to at least have some opportunity to park their car," McAlpine said. "We know UNC Charlotte students come from all over the nation, and sometimes people don't drive their car every day. They still need a place to put their car.

"The campus has a very difficult time having the ability to buy all of the parking it needs. We don't want any of our resident overflow onto the campus."

The developer will not, however, comply with some of the suggestions put forth about parking concerns. A nearby fraternity house, the Kappa Alpha Order, asked McAlpine Co. to allow the fraternity members to park in the lots at the complex. McAlpine said he will not work with the fraternity to fulfill that requests.

"We have had active conversations with them, but the requests that the fraternity have given us have been odd," McAlpine said. "For instance, they have asked to be able to use our pool and amenities. They asked to be able to park their cars on our lot. They asked that we restrict that our residents can never call in noise violations on the fraternity."

Another general concern the company has addressed is the traffic flow in the University City area. Although many would think the addition of another apartment complex would increase traffic, McAlpine Co. officials said their complex would decrease traffic.

As the complex would be so close to the university and would include addition of a sidewalk leading to UNCC, McAlpine said, he believes more students will walk to campus, decreasing the number of students driving there.

"This section of Highway 49 from Mallard Creek does not have any sidewalk, and so we have agreed with the city to do a 10-foot multi-modal walk to get people where they can walk, they can bike, they can skateboard - whatever they need to do to get to campus easier without having to drive," McAlpine said.