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Cornelius News

Greenway Gartens: A new vision for development

April 13. By Dave Vieser. The outcome of a detailed traffic study may be the key element in Cornelius’ ongoing review of the proposed Greenway Gartens Project. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s plan for the 24-acre site on North Zion includes 398 apartments, 50 townhomes, a brewery and a beer garden.

The project is the vision of John Marrino, owner of Olde Mecklenburg.

“I’ve lived throughout North America and Europe and travelled virtually the entire world during my career.  I’ve seen first-hand and understand people’s desire to have a place where they can live, work and play,” he said.

John Marrino

Residents in nearby Antiquity are pleased, said Phil Bechtold, VP of the homeowners association. “To have a project of this type within walking distance from our neighborhood is very attractive.”

Another neighbor, Michael Klein, said Greenway Gartens is the missing piece of the downtown scene.

Still, there are concerns about traffic, both during and after construction.

A little history

“Antiquity Woods proposed to develop the same area bordering South Street,” said Antiquity resident Mike Hurley. “But it was a much smaller project with 103 homes and a 2,500 square foot restaurant. Even so, it was found to have a negative impact on traffic.”

Scott Higgins, chairman of the town’s PARC Commission, said he will be interested in the traffic study findings, given the existing and planned 1,000-plus rooftops in the Antiquity and Town Center area.

The Antiquity resident is referring to not only Greenway Gartens but also the adjacent Caroline mixed-use project which calls for up to an additional 360 residential units, as well as the existing homes in the Antiquity section.

Marrino developed a similar restaurant and biergarten in Charlotte in a former industrial neighborhood that’s now almost fully transformed into a popular, walkable, mixed-use neighborhood. 

The question here is whether more traffic will over-burden Catawba Avenue and Hwy. 115, both two-lane roads.

Leading developer

Marrino is partnering with Northwood Ravin, one of the leading developers in the Southeast. The concept is a walkable community surrounding the brewery and biergarten, complete with open space and a Main Street kind of vibe.

“I’ve lived throughout North America and Europe and travelled virtually the entire world during my career.  I’ve seen first-hand and understand people’s desire to have a place where they can live, work and play”

–John Marrino, Owner of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Cornelius Planning Director Aaron Tucker said that the Town intends to encourage traffic flow through the proposed Greenway Gartens/Caroline developments. 

“This may include a right in/right out design coming out of Antiquity. These methods and concepts will be included in the final Traffic Impact Analysis Report,” Tucker said.

Greenway Gartens would occupy about 24 acres on the northern end of Zion Avenue where Curtis Screw had a factory for many years. Marrino acquired the property four years ago.

Marrino has pledged to build a new road at his expense which will connect to South Street in Davidson. There’s no word on the cost, but roads don’t come cheap.

Traffic Impact Analysis

The engineering firm of Ramey Kemp and Associates of Charlotte is doing the TIA in preparation for the April 12 Planning Board hearing, and while they will take the new road into consideration, Hurley and other residents have several concerns about the study:

•They believe the TIA should take into consideration the project’s impact on the Exit 28 interchange.

•They say the study should also consider prolonged construction traffic possibly involving flagman stopping traffic on Old Canal/Zion Street across from Harris Teeter and South Street between Davidson Elementary and the Antiquity Bridge.

•Finally, they also question the study being done during a pandemic, with lower traffic volumes.

Economic impact

The economic benefit of the project is impressive.

Attorney Susan Irvin, speaking on behalf of Marrino, said recent studies show that the project would generate $97.5 million in construction benefits and some $82.2 million in operational benefits after five years.