Council: Steele Creek proposal needs more work

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comJuly 23, 2013 

— A new commercial center could still be coming to South Tryon Street and Steelecroft Parkway, but it’ll take a little work.

Charlotte City Council held a zoning meeting last week that included the proposal for the 3.56 acres on the southeast corner of the intersection. City staff recommended Council deny the current plan when it comes to a full vote unless changes are made.

“I’m confident we can come to a resolution,” said Walter Fields, representing developer LandNet.

The site currently has two vacant houses on it. The request is for three buildings - at least 50 percent brick, stone or similar material - allowing 30,000 square feet of commercial use, including at least 10,000 square feet of office or up to 25,000 square feet of retail with no office. The plan also would allow drive-thrus.

“Future land use does call for it to redevelop as a mixed-use residential, retail or office,” said Tammie Keplinger, planning manager.

The main concern is pedestrian access. The most recent Steele Creek Area Plan calls for more sidewalks and similar features than the plan provides. Keplinger said staff determined the plan doesn’t “have that feeling of a sense of place” called for in the area plan.

“Modifications need to be made to the site plan to address the community design guidelines,” she said.

Fields told Council at the July 15 meeting he had already requested a meeting with city staff to see what improvements to the plan can be made. He also told Council the proposal is a fit for the area.

“This is literally the last piece of residentially zoned property as part of this very large complex at the intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 160,” he said.

A larger property might allow for more pedestrian access, Fields said. Decades ago, he worked with planning staff and property owners on the first comprehensive plan for the area, which served as a basis for future plans like the one calling for sidewalks and more connectivity.

“What you see today is actually the continuation of that philosophy up to the present day,” Fields said. “Every plan that’s been done since then has included identifying of the 160 and 49 intersection as the focal point for retail and services in this portion of the community.”

The new development would include a shelter for the bus stop on N.C. 49. Fields said it also would complete a transition from residential to commercial in the area that would signal other improvements, such as adding a signal at Steelecroft.

The plan will go to a zoning committee on Wednesday. Council still will need to vote on it, or an amended one, at a later meeting.

“It will not go back to City Council until September for a decision,” said Shad Spencer, city planner.

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