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Cornelius News

Town Board approves Mill’s Market, with Gilroy casting lone no-vote

Mills Market | Highline Partners

Sept. 19. By Dave Vieser. By a 4-1 margin, the Town Board approved rezoning for Mill’s Market, a 250,000-square-foot mixed-use project in the heart of downtown Cornelius. The project will be located on a prime downtown parcel: 2.3 acres on the south side of Catawba, between Meridian Street and the Cain Center for the Arts.

The plan voted on by the Town Board was not as tall, nor as dense as the original 2022 version, but it did have a larger commercial component than the first draft.


Developer Mark Miller of Highline Partners told commissioners that “we heard the message that we needed to increase the amount of commercial in the project.”

Most of the speakers from the audience voiced their support for the project.”I am probably the one person here tonight who lives closest to this site,” said Jim Miles, who lives on  Meridian. “But I am in favor of it, understanding that something is going to be built there eventually. I think it’s a great project.”

Gilroy opposed

The strongest opposition came from Commissioner Dave Gilroy, who cast the sole negative vote.

“What we are not conscious of in this room tonight is the impact other nearby projects already approved but not yet built, such as Greenway Gartens and Caroline, will have on traffic in the downtown area,” Gilroy said.


“We are going to have something like 800 residential units in this area. To put in another 240 and expect people to get around town, to me it’s impossible. It’s not at all fair to Mark Miller and his team, but they [the current board] didn’t approve those other projects…the last board did!”

Project highlights:

—Density: 263 units has been reduced to a maximum of 238 units.

—Height: The original six-story structure was scaled down to a four-story building fronting Catawba.

—Commercial/retail: The commercial component of 7,000 to 8,000 square feet was increased to approximately 12,000 square feet.

—Parking: Miller agreed to provide an additional 130 public parking spaces in the lowest levels of the parking deck. These spaces will be owned and controlled by the Town and are meant to serve as additional parking for patrons of downtown Cornelius, including the Cain Center.

—Affordable Workforce Housing: Miller has also committed to providing 10 residential units at affordable workforce housing levels for a minimum of 20 years, and working with the newly created Community Development Corp. They will also make a $30,000 contribution to the program at the closing of their construction loan.

Historical footnote

While the hearing focused on what will be coming, a bit of Cornelius’ history may disappear. The old Doc Washam house at the corner of Meridian and Catawba will have to come down or be moved.


11 Responses to “Town Board approves Mill’s Market, with Gilroy casting lone no-vote”

  1. Thank you, Dave Gilroy, for being the only voice of reason in all this madness!!

    Posted by Anonymous | September 19, 2023, 12:07 pm
    • I agree. It is crazy to continue to approve projects that add more traffic and do nothing to help keep traffic moving When I moved here 12 years ago, I loved it and planned on retiring here, but now I’m moving to get away from the traffic.

      Posted by JC | September 21, 2023, 6:19 am
  2. Commissioner Gilroy has the foresight to see the coming issues with traffic- why can’t/won’t the others? He’s right- it’s not the fault of the Mills Market developers. It would have been a nice addition, but it just isn’t practical any longer, with the coming residential developments of Caroline and Greenway Gartens (looking at you, previous board). Struggling at this point to someone to vote for in the upcoming election.

    Posted by Justin B | September 19, 2023, 12:54 pm
    • Imagine that… Gilroy being against anything good for our town. He has been a commissioner for year’s campaigning on issues like fixing roads but never allowed the funding to do that or a lot of other things. So what was he for and what did he fix? Not much… Goodbye Gilroy

      Posted by Richard Stilwell | September 20, 2023, 9:19 am
  3. Editor
    I couldn’t agree more with Dave Gilroy’s stance on the recent approval of Mill’s Market by the Town Board in downtown Cornelius. It truly is mind-blowing how a board can reject well-thought-out commercial projects (because of traffic considerations) while greenlighting over 230 residential units in one of the highest density areas in our city.
    First and foremost, I commend Gilroy for his lone no-vote in the face of what seems to be a rush toward residential development without due consideration for the long-term consequences. His concern about the cumulative impact of already approved but unbuilt projects on downtown traffic is not only valid but essential for responsible urban planning. It’s all too easy to focus on the short-term gains of residential development without considering the strain it places on infrastructure, transportation, and the overall quality of life for residents.
    Gilroy’s point about the sheer number of residential units in the area is crucial. To add another 230 units on top of the already approved 800 units is a recipe for traffic congestion and potential urban chaos. It’s not a question of fairness to Mark Miller and his team; it’s a question of responsible governance and planning. The fact that the previous board approved those other projects is no excuse for blindly continuing down a path that could lead to severe problems for our community.
    The project highlights offer some consolation, but they don’t address the fundamental issue of overdevelopment. While reducing density and scaling down the building’s height are positive steps, they don’t negate the fact that the focus should be on commercial development in a prime downtown location. The increased commercial component is a step in the right direction, but it’s still dwarfed by the residential aspect of the project.
    The commitment to affordable workforce housing and additional public parking spaces is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t change the fact that this project is primarily residential in nature. It’s essential to strike a balance between residential and commercial development to create a vibrant, sustainable downtown area.
    In conclusion, I stand with Dave Gilroy in questioning the wisdom of this decision. It’s time for the Town Board to reevaluate its priorities and consider the long-term consequences of its choices. We need a balanced approach that ensures the vitality of our downtown area while preserving the quality of life for all residents; We deserve better leadership……….

    Posted by Joe a vagnone | September 19, 2023, 1:40 pm
  4. Its looks great in the renderings. Now the board needs to seriously focus on infrastructure with this extra tax revenue from these projects! They should be looking to the future of transportation in the way of trains to and from Charlotte.
    They should not allow building near the old rail tracts so hopefully when they are ready to create a line from Cornelius to Charlotte they will have somewhere near downtown for a station.
    Please don’t squander what little property in left near the tracts if necessary the town should buy it up now if its not too late

    Posted by Rick | September 19, 2023, 2:18 pm
    • “…with the extra tax revenue from these projects…”Except that there is NEVER NET “extra tax revenue” from multi-family residential development. In fact, every time we get a tax increase (whether from the town or the county) or see an increase in utility rates, it is always because of “increased needs due to population growth.” I applaud Dave Gilroy. I believe most of the residents of Cornelius live here because of the lifestyle it has offered. Had we wanted a city lifestyle with all the corresponding problems, we would be living in Charlotte rather than Cornelius. Cornelius needs to emphasize growing our tax base through commercial and very low density residential development, in my opinion.

      Posted by Lynn Wilson | September 22, 2023, 6:21 pm
  5. The board did not “blindly” approve this development but engaged in pragmatic and thoughtful decision, considering all other projects that might materialize. This project is a “balance between commercial and residential” and studies have shown that commercial-only projects actually generate more traffic. I agree with Commissioner Gilroy that previous approvals have somewhat handcuffed current opportunities that would contribute greatly to downtown. Contextually, this project won’t be completed until 2026, when many road projects will be completed. Additionally, this project provides needed infrastructure such as parking, affordable housing, buried power lines, retail options, and street and sidewalk improvements without burdening the taxpayer. Citizen voices are powerful and it was a 5:1 ratio in favor of the project. Commissioners are responsive to feedback but it’s essential to be heard prior to decisions.

    Posted by Todd Sansbury-Town Commissioner | September 19, 2023, 5:52 pm
  6. It doesn’t matter at this point which board did what. Infrastructure issues to support all these projects has been brought to the board, current and past, repeatedly and nothing has been done to make improvements in a significant manner. The east side of Cornelius is often gridlock because of this and our planning staff needs to address this before approving more projects that will only make this situation worse. Just because it’s a good project doesn’t mean it’s a good location.

    Posted by ME | September 20, 2023, 10:45 am
  7. As a resident in Mill Creek, how is the city planning on supporting the traffic in the area?? This area is already overpopulated. We do not have the infrastructure in anyway for this!!
    I think this was a poor decision made by our board members.

    Posted by Chelsie cole | September 21, 2023, 9:49 am
  8. Yawn. Same words, different project.

    Posted by Moses | September 21, 2023, 12:40 pm

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