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Cornelius News

Mixed reaction to ‘Caroline’ mixed-use project

Caroline site plan

April 20. By Dave Yochum. A Charlotte developer’s plans for a 16.2-acre mixed-use project near downtown Cornelius met with considerable opposition from neighbors in Antiquity and in adjacent Davidson.

Some of the concern has to do with the adjacent Olde Mecklenburg Brewery project on the former Curtis Screw factory where another mixed-use project is planned. Greenway Gartens includes a brewery and beer garden, as well as 398 apartments and 50 townhomes.

Enter “Caroline,” a Proffitt Dixon project with an active adult/age-restricted residential section, retail, offices, commercial buildings, green space and multi-family residential.

The property is currently zoned neighborhood residential and would need to be rezoned if it is to proceed, hence the public hearing last night.

Philip Bechtold, a member of the Antiquity Homeowners board, said “we are very positive on both these projects,” referring to Greenway Gartens and Caroline.

Resident concerns

His neighbors disagreed.

Travis Julian, an Antiquity resident, said the Carolina project has raised a lot of neighborhood concerns, including traffic. With 700 total units, he estimated 2,800 trips in and out of both projects, just from residents, not counting retail and brewery traffic.

“How do we address traffic flow,” he asked, pointing out the density of both Greenway Gartens and Caroline.

Mike Hurley, also from Antiquity, asked for the board to deny the rezoning request based on the “adverse impact” of traffic.

He asked for a traffic study that would include both Greenway Gartens and Caroline.

Rick Sherman said there was a “considerable” number of people opposed to the plans, including construction traffic on Old Canal where sinkholes have been an ongoing problem.

Carla Eisenberg, of Davidson, said aerial renderings were deceptive and masked the scale of the project.

Mark Ceraldi, of South Street in Antiquity, said he opposed the plan, based in part on the difficult topography which includes steep terrain and two streams.

Ann Browning, a Davidson resident, expressed concerns about conducting a traffic impact analysis during a pandemic. Given over-development, she said she “our concern is that our two towns will become two more congested suburbs with a few cute buildings on Catawba and Main Street.”

Cornelius resident Justin Bossert emailed the Town Board: “There aren’t enough roundabouts and infrastructure projects in the world that can accommodate the kind of traffic we are talking about adding to our roads.”

Chamber, VLN in favor

Bill Russell, CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber, spoke in favor of the project, saying it would add rooftops to support retail, including specialty shops and restaurants. “Retail follows rooftops. You absolutely have to have people if you’re going to have as successful project,” he said, mentioning Antiquity, which itself is a mixed-use project with retail.

Sally Ashworth, CEO of Visit Lake Norman, said she supports Caroline because it downtown lacks hospitality infrastructure, even with the Cain Center for the Arts on the way. “The Carolina development is important to the overall Town Center’s success,” she said in an email that was read aloud.

What’s next

Monday night was the first hearing on the project which requires rezoning to go forward. A second hearing has not been scheduled until a traffic study is completed.


7 Responses to “Mixed reaction to ‘Caroline’ mixed-use project”

  1. With all due respect to Bill Russell and Sally Ashworth, neither one of them appear to have addressed the glaring problem; traffic. No amount of PR spin will make Caroline, Greenway Gartens, or any other large residential project feasible from a traffic standpoint.

    Posted by Justin Bossert | April 20, 2021, 11:59 am
  2. Until Cornelius Officials recognize the drastic problem and BUILD NEW AND WIDENING EXISTING ROADS, any development in the community (East or West) is of no benefit to the current residents and, as such, should be shelved!! All projects should consider the BENEFITS for current residents quality of life and neither of these offer any. Maybe some more open spaces and parks!!

    Posted by MICHAEL COOPER | April 20, 2021, 2:35 pm
  3. There is only one entrance to the Brewery, and that will be Zion Avenue. (I believe I heard some chuckling from the developer when he mentioned the potential of a new crossing over the railroad tracks. We all know the track owner won’t allow this.)

    The only way to get to Zion Avenue is to drive on the Catawba Avenue extension from the light at 115 and Catawba, and then make a left onto Zion Avenue. Imagine how many cars will have to make that turn. The brewery’s beer garden in Charlotte seats over 1,000 people. And the crowds turn over a few times a day.

    Now add to that a development whose western entrance will have have drivers forced to pass OMB after making that left turn, if they are coming from west of those train tracks.

    And we all know how difficult exiting the northern part of South Street into Davidson is now. There is not room for 2 parked cars and one lane of traffic in each direction. It will be a larger bottleneck than it already is.

    The Chamber of Commerce, who backs this plan, obviously has no concept of what those of us who live in the area have to contend with in regards to traffic.

    While the OMB facility will be a great addition to the area, building it without having the foresight to plan for the extra traffic that it will create paints shame on the Town Board and Planning committee.

    Posted by Norm P | April 20, 2021, 4:31 pm
  4. Traffic problems are a direct result of electing town, county and state representatives that are too cheap to raise taxes for the benefit of all.

    Do not blame the land owners and the developers for maximizing the use of their properties.

    Lastly… Doing due diligence is the responsibility of the property owners in the path of any possible developments. Property owners who cannot realize that growth may come to be around them really do not have a leg to stand on when the development does come.

    Either stay or go but…. growth is inevitable.

    Posted by Richard Stilwell | April 20, 2021, 7:02 pm
  5. These future development’s show no real concerns for the resulting decrease in the “quality” of life for the typical Cornelius/ Davidson resident. Our little inner city 2 Lane streets are inadequate for the resulting traffic increase.

    Posted by Clarence Miller | April 20, 2021, 10:50 pm
  6. Yeah, development is great, until it is not! In my 17 years of living in Cornelius and almost 40 years of being in the area I can say that the traffic and gridlock have increased dramatically. I am not against development but I really think infrastructure improvements should precede development. Builders/Developers should pre-pay for infrastructure. Not just roads, also Schools, Fire, Police, etc.

    Posted by Chris Conroy | April 21, 2021, 3:26 am
  7. Wow! I want to be the guy getting paid to do ‘traffic studies’ in Cornelius. What a racket! Job security, nobody asking you what you are doing, extra-long lunch hours watching vehicles creep along Catawba Avenue, then submitting a report for a nice chunk of change. Heck, I could write a traffic report out of just these comments alone!

    Posted by Jeff Oakie | April 23, 2021, 12:26 pm

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