|By Dan Tierney, The Charlotte Observer,
N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 30, 2008 - Sitting between two busy roads in Gateway Village, a nearly 2.5-acre sliver of land currently features nothing much more than a boarded-up apartment complex, an old house and overgrown grass.
A local development company, though, has a much bigger vision for the site.
Citiline Resortline Development and Construction has submitted plans to raze the apartment complex and add a hotel and parking deck sprinkled with some retail and residential units.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department will hold a public meeting July 21 for the company's rezoning request from urban residential to mixed-use development for the parcel between Fourth Street Extension and Johnson & Wales Way. The request will then go before the zoning committee, likely in August, and to the City Council for a final vote.
Though plans are far from official, Citiline President Tim Crawford at a Third Ward meeting last week told about 10 residents that he's talked with several hotel chains, including Hilton, which operates the nearby Johnson & Wales-owned Doubletree and could tie it in with its current location.
"We think of it as an anchor property to the southern end of Gateway Village," he said.
Crawford offered few details, including a cost estimate, but said he was working on financing options.
Renderings of the plan show residential units facing an existing residential area on Irwin Street, with possible entrances to the hotel from Johnson & Wales Way or Fourth Street Extension. The parking deck would sit in the middle of the property and behind an existing apartment complex. A house on the property, Crawford said at the meeting, will be given to someone who wants to save it and move it elsewhere.
For nearby resident Nykke Ford, the project stirs a bit of debate. She wants the abandoned buildings, where she sometimes sees people hanging out, gone. She's also concerned about the extra amount of traffic and noise new development could spur in the area.
"It would change this neighborhood drastically," she said. "Now, I can sit on my stoop at 9 or 10 at night, and you can hear a pin drop."
John Schwaller, president of the Third Ward Neighborhood Association, said Citiline is working with the city on traffic issues.
In a separate project, the city has already started planning ways to make the area more pedestrian friendly because of the number of college students, residents and Gateway Village workers.
Joe Frey, a project manager with the city, said earlier this month that final plans for the pedestrian-related project could come by the end of 2008.
As for a new hotel and retail, Schwaller said it's a welcome change for a prime location that's currently underused.
"Overall, we're very excited to see that little part of uptown developed," he said.
Staff Writer Nichole Monroe Bell contributed.
Dan Tierney: 704-358-5696
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