you're reading...

Cornelius News

Builder proposes hotel, retail, senior housing


Dec. 9. By Dave Vieser. Charlotte-based Palace Investment Group Inc. wants to develop 33 acres of vacant land along I-77 currently designated for “rural preservation” on Chartown Drive into a mixed-use center.

Charmore Center would include medical offices, senior housing, a skilled care living center, retail shops, an entertainment center and a hotel. The Charlotte-based developer is seeking a change to conditional zoning for the property on the west side of I-77 south of the Infiniti and Hyundai dealerships.

“We hope to target the Holston Medical Group to lease the medical office space, which could be as much as 90,000 square feet,” said Cornelius Benton, the head of Palace Investment. “We also plan to attract such stores as Nike and Lane Bryant outlets for the retail segment, arcades and food courts in the entertainment center, and to build a beautiful four-acre hotel visible from the interstate.”

The hotel is a key part of the proposal, according to Gary Knox, the real estate broker representing Palace.

“The lodging facilities in Cornelius have aged, and with many visitors coming to town, we feel a new modern hotel is really needed,” said Knox, a former mayor of Cornelius.

In the application, Palace estimates that the project will generate 300 construction jobs.

The Entertainment Center would create 1,000 full- and part-time jobs, according to the written application. Benton did not respond to an email asking for additional comment.

The town’s land use plan calls for business campus use of this site with a primary focus on corporate office, according to Planner Gary Fournier, who said the town has asked the developer to focus the primary use of the site toward office use.

In all, the town’s planning department has identified 17 areas where the proposal needs refinement before the formal review process commences.

Regardless, the plan is ambitious and the economic impact could be powerful. There will be several steps along the way where residents will have the opportunity to be heard, with the first being a community meeting at a time and date to be determined.

The issue of over-development registered as a major concern among voters in the past town board election with many voters expressing concern over the potential loss of the few parcels of vacant land left in the town, especially west of the interstate.

The specific site where the development is proposed actually comprises six separate tax parcels. According to county records, four of the six are owned by James and/or Annie Blakely of Cornelius, and carry a total tax value of $1.15 million. The fifth parcel is owned by Steven Robinette of Cornelius, with a tax value of $154,000 and the sixth parcel is owned by Life Fellowship Church, exempt from property taxes.