About 200 hear about Steele Creek’s future

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comFebruary 28, 2014 

— Steele Creek residents learned they will soon have more shopping options, along with roads to get them to it.

Chris Thomas, developer with Childress-Klein Properties, told about 200 residents at Thursday night’s annual Steele Creek Residents Association meeting that the Charlotte Premium Outlets project at N.C. 160 and I-485 is “100 percent leased” with several signed tenants surrounding it. He said his group also is “nearly finished leasing” the ongoing expansion of RiverGate shopping center near N.C. 160 and N.C. 49.

“There is a lot of commercial investment in the Steele Creek community,” Thomas said.

Thomas would not name the new tenants.

The outlet project is a $100 million investment set to bring more than 900 jobs to the area. It’s a partnership between Tanger Factory Outlet Centers and Simon Property Group and is set to open by Aug. 1. It also includes more than $8 million in road improvements, mainly at eight new intersections.

“You’ll see some significant improvements take place this spring and summer,” Thomas said.

Childress-Klein is bringing tenants to surrounding parcels. Thomas said he has signed a “national hotel, two sit-down restaurants and a petroleum operation” with conversations ongoing for more restaurants.

Thomas said, with the project leased out several months before opening, it’s a sign the project will succeed.

“That is some indication of the interest and demand,” he said.

The $20 million RiverGate expansion will include stores HomeGoods, Michaels and Ulta Beauty, announced in the fall by Childress-Klein. Thomas said Thursday he is close to naming another national retailer “new to the Charlotte area.” Since opening its first phase, RiverGate is the top performing Childress-Klein shopping center. The second phase should open this fall.

Roadwork

Between the outlets and RiverGate, there’s work coming to widen N.C. 160, due in large part to community involvement. That widening won’t happen as quickly as the commercial development, but it does fall in the first window of projects regional planners hope to tackle.

“Your project pretty much hit it out of the park,” said Bob Cook with the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization. “It went from no status whatsoever to pretty high on the list.”

At last year’s meeting residents lobbied Cook and others for widening to be included in a 2040 plan. His group ranked 300 projects and put widening of N.C. 160 from Shopton Road West and South Tryon as No. 50 and from South Tryon to the South Carolina line as No. 61. Those rankings put both projects in the closest window for when planners estimate they’ll be complete, sometime between 2016 and 2025.

A public comment period continues through March 19 at crpto.org. The North Carolina Department of Transportation will score the regional recommendations in May and they’ll be reviewed by Cook’s group again between May and July. Sometime in September or October the transportation department will draft a transportation improvement plan made up of the recommendations.

“That is where the real dollars are assigned to projects,” Cook said.

The expansion at RiverGate and the new outlet mall were announced when the initial ranking took place.

“The mall was a factor in our analysis,” Cook said.

Karl Froelich, president of the association, credited residents with getting road improvements on the list.

“This is a great show of interest in our community,” Froelich said of the meeting turnout.

Airport growth

Planner Kathy Dennis with Charlotte Airport Development outlined Charlotte-Douglas International Airport improvements, including:

• Ongoing work on a new main entrance to the airport. Construction on an inbound lane should be done in the “next couple of months,” after which the outbound lane work will begin. It should be done by December.

• A new hourly deck and rental car facility to replace an hourly deck torn down after the holidays. The old deck had 3,000 spaces. The new one will have 4,000 plus another 3,000 for rentals. The public spaces should open in November, the rental spots next February. “It takes a lot of shuttle buses off the roadway,” Dennis said.

• A curb-front roadway expansion from three lanes to eight. It will separate private and commercial traffic. It will be complete in 2017.

• A second business valet deck to be complete in October or November.

• A remote rental car storage facility to begin construction this spring. The airport began buying property “in the ’80s” to convert a former neighborhood. The site will be used to clean and repair rentals.

• Expansion of the west terminal. Concourses A and B will be connected, and a $50 million grant will be used to replace a 30-year-old, 1.5-mile conveyor belt system for baggage.

• Another possible runway. A consultant will determine future needs, including whether a parallel runway may be needed near I-485.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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