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Cornelius News

What’s in the driver’s seat for Birkdale Village? Parking

Birkdale Village aerial

Feb. 2. By TL Bernthal. Convenient parking is the driver of the revised Birkdale Village plan, while the boutique hotel and apartments are taking the back seat.

The new plan that will come before the Huntersville town commissioners Monday, Feb. 6, is substantially different and that will delay a vote on the rezoning request until at least March.

The 125-room, seven-story hotel and 350 multifamily units were removed from the latest plans. Yes, they may be proposed again years from now. DDRTC Birkdale Village LLC submitted the revised rezoning plans to the town on Friday, Jan. 27.

Office space remains

What remains is the Class A office building and the parking garage that supports it with 450 additional spaces for office during the workday and those 450 additional spaces available to the public after 5 pm on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Tim Perry

Tim Perry — managing partner at North American Properties, the owners of Birkdale Village — says a study shows 70 percent of the parking need is on weekends and after normal business hours.

What was a $200 million to $250 million project is now an $80 million to $90 million project.

The remaining elements

The office building and retail would be 175,000 square feet: Six stories of 150,000 square feet of offices over retail. Perry called it the “right balance.”

He said the developer, an architect and town leaders would meet to find a softer esthetic than originally proposed.

If the height seems far-reaching, remember that a smaller office would mean fewer additional parking spaces, Perry said.

The plans show the 450 spaces will be added above the existing two-story garage adjacent to the green. The first story will remain  public parking and the second for the existing multi-family.

More parking spaces in the right area, along with way-finding and new technology such as counters show how many spaces are available, Perry said, will all make parking more convenient.

Smart growth

Neighborhood residents balked at the original plans — and some may not be happy with further change — citing traffic or parking issues and changing the feel of their beloved village.Perry says the developer is looking for smart growth.

“We’re not trying to change the emotional attachment that the village has, the romantic walk, we’re not trying to change an evening out with the kids on the greens. We want to deal with parking,” Tim Perry said in a telephone interview with Cornelius Today.

Shoppers want more convenient parking. Residents for years have wanted shoppers and diners  to find parking off neighborhood streets.

Perry said the developers heard the call for convenient parking away from residential streets and the original plans started with that parking concept. Something needed to pay for the parking, and when the possibilities were penciled in, convenient parking got lost, he said.

Lightbulb moment

Then came the lightbulb moment.  “Wait a minute, we forgot we were supposed to provide parking because we were moving around pieces,” Perry said.

A hotel would support parking for its guests.

The apartments would not create parking for all. “Residential would be the tail wagging the dog,” he said.

Down the road

As for the future of a Birkdale Village conference center and a re-arranged boutique hotel, Perry said that’s something that could be done later if the town has a want or need of it.

“We just want to get it right,” Perry said.