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Cornelius News

Townhome developer is long-time resident of Oakhurst


By Dave Yochum. Matt Gallagher, the point man for a new townhome development that will be built on Washam Potts, is no stranger to Cornelius or to development here.

The 42-year-old has lived in Oakhurst for 20 years with his wife Amy and five kids, ages one to 15.

The still unnamed development on Washam Potts has been approved by the Town Board in a 4-1 vote.

Commissioner Jim Duke, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the project was wrong for the site.

“It is my view building 18 single-family homes that comport with adjacent neighborhoods was the far better solution than ‘shoe-horning’ 27 townhomes onto six acres,” Duke said.

The board vote comes amidst a change in the nature of development in Cornelius. There are more infill projects where new homes are going in between existing houses and developments, some of which were built decades ago.

Generally speaking, all that’s left in Cornelius are smaller plots of land where the owners have just about as many rights to use their property as owners 25, 50 and 75 years ago.

Gallagher worked at Gandy Communities which was responsible for building literally thousands of new homes in Oakhurst and Heritage Green. It seems like there is more scrutiny around a 27-townhome development than the projects of yesteryear which brought in 400 and 500 homes at a time.

It’s debatable as to whether building townhomes is more profitable than single-family homes. The question is, does a particular home product meet the demand?

Gallagher says there is a “missing wedge” in move-up housing between higher-price homes and what might be called entry level.

Of course, home prices in and around Cornelius have soared as continued in-migration boosts demand. There’s a shortage of homes priced in the $350,000 to $450,000 range, and for all intents and purposes, no way to build starter homes in a place where land prices are soaring.

Gallagher says building homes in the upper middle range will attract move-up buyers who will in turn free up lower-priced inventory and people who are down-sizing free who will free up larger homes.

As far as density is concerned, Gallagher says he plans 27 townhomes on 6.82 acres, amounting to a density of 3.95 units per acre.

Over on Bailey Road, there’s another infill development planned by Mattamy Homes on 16 acres. The density is 3.99 units per acre.

Town planning maxes out density at four units per acre.

Next up for Gallagher are construction drawings and “to make sure we can actually build the 27 that we now have approved.” An architect has not been selected, but Gallagher is hoping for a stepped profile, so that the elevations present varying rooflines.

Planned are screened porches as well as 100 feet of woods separating the townhomes from the nearest existing homes.

Groundbreaking is planned for the second half of this year, Gallagher said.