Massive mixed-use project proposed for western Charlotte

03/29/2016

A master-planned mixed-use project spearheaded by two developers is being proposed for a huge swath of land in western Charlotte.
 
Crescent Communities and Lincoln Harris have filed a rezoning petition for roughly 1,300 acres between Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the Catawba River, where the companies are planning a mixed-use community in an area the project refers to as River District. The development is expected to include 8 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail space, 4,000 single-family homes and multifamily units, hotels, a waterfront gathering space, and hundreds of acres of green space.
 
Developers Crescent Communities and Lincoln Harris are filing zoning for undeveloped land bordered by the Catawba River and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, including land along Dixie River Road.
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“This is an inevitable evolution,” said John W. Harris III, president of Lincoln Harris.
 
Both Harris and Brian Leary, president of commercial and mixed use at Crescent Communities, cited a need for a new development and employment opportunity in Charlotte.
 
“We’ve had the land for a very long time,” Leary said. “Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. It’s time to start thinking about the next step.”
 
Redevelopment of the land in western Charlotte has been discussed for years. At one point before the recession, Lincoln Harris had plans for 12-story office buildings overlooking the airport runways. Crescent Communities has owned about 950 acres for several years. Harris has long touted the area in western Charlotte as the next phase for major development in the city.
 
The property slated for redevelopment is part of Dixie Berryhill, which contains watershed boundaries throughout the site. A rezoning map submitted to the city shows districts throughout the property, including residential districts along the Catawba River and employment districts directly across from the airport.
 
A gateway district, transitional district and town center district are also part of the plan. The gateway district, at a major access point at the front of the planned community, will include 500,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail and 250 hotel rooms. The transitional district, behind the community's employment district, will include 300 multifamily units, 1 million square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail. The town center district, at the heart of the development and extending to the Catawba River, will feature 1,250 multifamily units, 300 single-family units, 2 million square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail and 500 hotel rooms.
 
New roads throughout the property are also illustrated, in addition to extensions of existing roads, including West Boulevard and Dixie River Road. Future potential access to I-485 and Billy Graham Parkway are also indicated.
 
Harris and Leary say the success of SouthPark’s Piedmont Town Center, which was developed by Lincoln Harris and Crescent Communities, prompted the developers to join forces on the River District project. Discussions began last June.
 
Because of its size, the project’s build-out has no timeline at this point, the developers say. A rezoning hearing is expected to take place this summer, with a decision expected by the third quarter.
 
“It’s probably never going to be completed,” Harris said, adding the project will “inevitably evolve” over the next several decades. Leary called the project a “generational opportunity.”
 
Approximately 40%, or roughly 520 acres, of the land will be preserved for greenways, parks, trails and open spaces. The proximity to the Catawba River and existing natural environment is a “value-add from day one,” Leary says.
 
“The consumer is asking for it,” Leary said, citing the success of Charlotte’s greenways and U.S. National Whitewater Center. “Let’s pay attention to what people want.”
 
“It’s a unique piece of property,” Harris said. “We’re creating a place for people to work, live and play. The (environment) becomes part of the experience.
 
“The evolution of development doesn’t happen overnight,” he continued. “We need to continue to foster the growth in Charlotte.”

About Crescent Communities

Crescent Communities is a nationally recognized, market-leading real estate investor, developer and operator of multifamily, commercial and mixed use communities. Crescent creates high-quality, differentiated communities in desirable locations in many of the fastest growing markets in the Southeast and Southwest. Since the company was founded in 1963, Crescent’s development portfolio has included more than 60 single family master-planned communities,  43 multifamily communities and more than 21 million square feet of commercial space. Its multifamily communities are branded NOVEL by Crescent Communities.