Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rezoning Application 2009-074

Yesterday members of the Third Ward board met with developers John Arciero and Vincent James, who have proposed a rezoning for 6.2 acres adjacent to Ray's Splash Planet, Irwin Avenue Elementary School, and Elmwood & Pinewood Cemeteries (the rezoning application can be found here).
The land is currently owned by the Board of Education, who has reportedly agreed to a trade agreement in exchange for 25,000sf of office space for Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in a new building. While additional CMS office space Uptown would normally generate excitement, it appears that this space would be minimally staffed. A condominium agreement illustrating CMS ownership of the space was not presented.
The developers declined to share their electronic presentation. In brief, they propose three mixed-use structures of 6, 12, and 20 stories, integrating office, retail, and residential uses. The structures are planned to be built atop a 3 story subterranean parking deck.
Site amenities were promised to include two amphitheaters, a monumental staircase "like the Spanish Steps in Italy," a plaza, and a promenade. Green amenities including "LEED Silver or better" certification were also promised.
The development plan lacked specific details regarding traffic, architectural controls, site lighting, etc. Each of these (and more) would be required in Zoning Conditions should the project advance. Also lacking were details on potential tenants and/or buyers for the office, residential, and retail space. Specific to the residential component, affordable/workforce housing was mentioned, but neither subsidy agreements nor partnerships with housing agencies have been sought or secured.
The developers will host an open house on Tuesday, September 8th, at 5:00p on the 8th floor of the Government Center. I encourage you to attend this meeting to learn more about the proposed development. I request that you share your feedback by 7:00p on Wednesday, September 9th, for board consideration. Shortly after that - and according to our standard procedures - the board will issue a letter to the developers summarizing the position of the neighborhood.
Thank you for your participation!