Charlotte Business Journal
After much discussion, opposition and modification, a mixed-use project in Elizabeth by developer Faison won approval from Charlotte City Council on Monday night.
Though the majority of council voted in favor of bringing up to 100 apartments and 30,000 square feet of nonresidential uses to the corner of East Seventh Street and North Caswell Road, it was a hesitant “yes” for some. City Council voted 8-2 in favor of the project, with council members Patsy Kinsey and LaWana Mayfieldvoting against it.
“I’m frustrated by the fact that we’re creating more density but no bike and pedestrian access,” said council member Julie Eiselt, indicating her vote was a “disgruntled” yes. “We need to do a better job as a city to create more opportunities for people to get in and out of uptown. This is a pretty important intersection for that.
“I’m going to support it, but I’m disappointed,” Eiselt continued.
The project, at the site of Jackalope Jacks, was at first largely opposed by council and the Elizabeth Community Association, which spoke out against the original plan’s density, mass, amount of parking and building design. The group reversed its position at last month’s zoning meeting, voicing support after Faison made several changes.
Mayor Pro-Tem Vy Lyles expressed concerns Monday night about the project’s access points on Caswell Road. Kinsey, who represents the district the project is in, repeated her earlier comments: The project is too tall and too dense for the neighborhood.
“The traffic there is horrendous,” Kinsey said. “Some people in the neighborhood do support it, but many, many do not. I can’t support it because there are too many questions.”
She said the intersection is an important part of Elizabeth and expressed fears that the project will create “a domino effect” for future projects.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts, an Elizabeth resident, commended the amount of dialogue between Faison and the community through the project’s many iterations.
“The neighborhood has been very accepting of change that has come very rapidly,” Roberts said. “I do have concerns (about) turning onto Seventh Street. Changes can be made, even if they’re not required by (Charlotte Department of Transportation). The neighborhood is going to put pressure on to make sure it’s accessible.”
She expressed optimism that difficult access points can be addressed and the project could ultimately work for everyone.
Other council members also recognized the number of changes the developer made. Faison reduced the number of apartments, added more parking, reduced the scale by splitting the project into two buildings and made architectural adjustments.
At March’s zoning meeting, council member Claire Fallon was particularly vocal against the project’s original design.
“My statement was that everything looks like a factory or barracks,” Fallon said Monday. “This looks more like Charlotte.”
Council member Kenny Smith, who voted in favor of the project, called it a “transformational” development for an important intersection of the city.
The Elizabeth project is one of several being developed by Faison. To name a couple: the firm has broken ground on a luxury apartment project on Queens Road in Myers Park. It also purchased a 5.7-acre site in Optimist Park earlier this year for a planned retail and multifamily project.