University City

Shopping complex makes slow progress

Developers say the Bridges at Mint Hill, a planned 210-acre shopping complex near the Lawyers Road-Interstate 485 interchange, will be built. They just aren’t sure when.

Chris Thomas, a partner with Childress Klein, one of two companies developing the project, says they still are waiting on plans to be approved.

One of the issues relates to a roundabout at the intersection of Bain School and Lawyers roads.

“We had some updates on the roundabout design and those are going through the N.C. Department of Transportation now,” Thomas said. “We are also working with Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities to provide sanitary sewer in the area.”

The builders already had approval for a private lift station but now are considering a larger station farther down the creek that would serve the mall and surrounding area.

Thomas says he expects all plans to be completed by fall. Builders then will go before Mint Hill commissioners to give a complete update before construction starts.

“We are not in a position to announce a construction schedule just yet,” Thomas said.

Mint Hill commissioners approved a zoning change for the shopping center in 2005, but it met several roadblocks along the way including extra permitting and widened buffers to protect the endangered Carolina heelsplitter mussel. The complex’s construction also was affected by a struggling economy and the bankruptcy of General Growth Properties, the project’s majority landowner.

They’ve since ironed out the heelsplitter issues, the economy is improving, and Howard Hughes Corp. took over General Growth’s interest and has partnered with Childress Klein.

When complete, the Bridges at Mint Hill will boast 1.3 million square feet of retail, hotel and commercial development and bring in an estimated additional $270,000 in town property tax revenue.