320-unit housing, recreational community planned for Rock Hill

adouglas@heraldonline.comMarch 1, 2014 

  • Want to go?

    What: Rock Hill Planning Commission meeting to discuss plans for a new housing and recreational community called The Preserve at Catawba

    When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

    Where: City Council Chambers at Rock Hill City Hall, 155 Johnston St.

A Charlotte-based company hopes to develop a 186-acre housing and recreational community in northern Rock Hill near Interstate 77 and the Catawba River.

The Simonini Group, a design and development firm known for its work in the greater Charlotte, Lake Wylie and Lake Norman areas, will present its plan on Tuesday to Rock Hill’s Planning Commission. The firm is asking city officials to sign off on a rezoning and annexation request that would bring the 186-acre tract into Rock Hill’s city limits.

The proposal is more than just a housing development, said Sonny Crater of Simonini Group. His firm looks to build communities “with character,” he said.

Simonini’s project – tentatively called The Preserve at Catawba – would be developed on nearly half of the 186 acres located along Mt. Gallant Road, near Celanese Road and the Catawba River. The rest, Crater said, would be “green” space.

He has held initial neighborhood meetings with The Preserve at Catawba’s potential neighbors, which include Rock Hill subdivisions such as Bristol Park and Riverview Acres.

Simonini is asking Rock Hill officials to approve the construction of nearly 120 townhomes and more than 200 single-family homes. Some “outparcels” along Mt. Gallant Road could be used for office-type businesses, Crater said.

During Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting, officials are expected to vote on Simonini’s plan and forward a recommendation to City Council, which will have the final say.

Plans for The Preserve at Catawba show entry and exit roads to the community connecting to Mt. Gallant and Lexington Commons Drive, a neighborhood street that feeds traffic to Riverchase Boulevard and, ultimately, Celanese Road and I-77.

The Preserve at Catawba is expected to include a trail that would connect to Rock Hill’s existing trail network, specifically walking and biking trails at Riverwalk – a housing and recreational community also along the Catawba River.

Riverwalk, near Cherry Road and I-77, is under development by The Assured Group and Dave Williams. The city of Rock Hill is also paying for some recreational facilities and infrastructure at Riverwalk and the city-owned Outdoor Center.

Crater expects that Simonini’s development will feature the river and a creek that runs through the property. Site plans call for a canoe launch along the water, at least four “pocket parks” and open space with shelters and benches.

Some parts of the plan aren’t “firm” yet, Crater said, but there’s a possibility of a fenced-in dog park for residents.

Across the river, another residential, recreational and commercial development has been proposed by another Charlotte firm. Crescent Communities announced late last year that it is hoping to buy 274 acres of land from the Culture and Heritage Foundation.

That land would become part of a “master-planned” 556-acre community along the Catawba River, near I-77 and Sutton Road in Fort Mill.

It makes sense, Crater said, that developers are flocking to the Fort Mill and Rock Hill areas along the river. The region boasts “good schools and good employment” options, he said.

And, in Rock Hill, multiple parks and recreation offerings drew Simonini to look for land, Crater said.

Pending various Rock Hill approvals for the development, Simonini hopes to begin site preparation and construction in the spring of 2015.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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