By Ashley Fahey for Charlotte Business Journal
January 6, 2021
It's been nearly five years since plans to develop 1,400 acres of land alongside the Catawba River in west Charlotte into a master-planned, mixed-use district were first unveiled.
After closing on land that will serve as the front door of that development, called The River District, Crescent Communities says it will begin the first phase of construction this year. Before the end of 2020, Charlotte-based Crescent Communities acquired 7.8 undeveloped acres at 9826 Garrison Road. That parcel will be the gateway for The River District, said Brendan Pierce, senior managing director of commercial development at the firm. "It's the first piece of property once you get off West Boulevard," Pierce said. "It sets the tone, signage, branding, and the first experience you have when you drive into that region."
The past several years, especially 2020, were spent in acquiring right-of-ways to extend West Boulevard and working with the city to set up the infrastructure to support new development.
Charlotte City Council in 2017 approved $31.2 million in reimbursements for infrastructure projects at The River District, including widening Dixie River and Garrison roads, streetscape improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, extending West Boulevard, and building a new water line. Crescent Communities today owns about 1,100 acres of the full 1,400-acre site. The remaining 300 or so acres will be assembled and acquired over time but, Pierce said, no other deals are pending or need to close for the first phase to break ground. "With this land acquisition, it was the last piece of the puzzle to get started, and to be able to have control of the gateway into The River District," Pierce said. "This was a critically important step for us. It's the final piece to allow us to start in earnest in the first half of the year."
The River District land is entitled to accommodate up to 8 million square feet of office, 500,000 square feet of retail, 1,000 hotel rooms, 2,300 single-family homes, and 2,550 apartments.
The River District, about the same size as Ballantyne in south Charlotte, will likely be built out over at least a decade. The first phase of construction, which will include extending West Boulevard and building The River District's town center, will start in the coming months, Pierce said. West Boulevard will be extended to Dixie River Road, where the town center will be developed. Construction is underway on sewer and water connections.
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