Plans for former Eastland Mall site, Atrium Health midtown campus get OK from Charlotte City Council

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By Ashley Fahey, Charlotte Business Journal
June 16, 2020

Two major redevelopments took a big step forward on Monday after members of Charlotte City Council voted unanimously to approve both of them.

Rezonings were approved for the redevelopment of Atrium Health’s midtown flagship campus and the former Eastland Mall property to accommodate, in both cases, substantial projects that would reimagine two key sites in midtown and east Charlotte.

The Atrium rezoning, which covers about 70 acres at Carolinas Medical Center, will allow a new bed tower, rehabilitation hospital, medical and general office space, colleges or universities, dormitories and affordable housing. Part of the midtown campus will be razed to make way for new health-care facilities, but the rezoning also allows an increase in development to 4.8 million square feet, up from the existing 3.3 million square feet at CMC.

The rezoning for Eastland includes 78 acres of mostly city-owned land at North Sharon Amity and Albemarle roads and Central Avenue. It will accommodate a Major League Soccer headquarters and mixed-use development. Plans call for up to 1,050 residential units and a range of commercial uses, such as retail, office, hotels, athletic fields and operations buildings, transit facilities and public parks.

Charlotte-based Crosland Southeast is leading the redevelopment along with the city and Tepper Sports & Entertainment.

The Atrium rezoning had a number of nearby residents signed up in opposition at the project’s public hearing last month. But Larken Egleston, district council member, said Monday the Dilworth Community Association was supportive of the changes made to the rezoning by Atrium after several meetings and negotiations with the organization. The DCA was previously agnostic on the petition.

Changes include a firm commitment to providing affordable housing if residential development is pursued and changes to building height on a portion of the site.

“I think an incredible amount of work has gone into this,” Egleston said.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said the petition was a tough one.

“Atrium has worked collaboratively with neighbors but it does affect a lot of people,” Eiselt said. “It’s frankly an elephant in the neighborhood. This could be something that is a catalyst for that neighborhood or it’s something that just overwhelms it.”

She said she hoped the hospital system would work with developers on future projects so the Dilworth area has a campus feel. ZOM Living and other developers are potentially pursuing a mixed-use project that would stretch from the southern edge of Atrium’s campus out to East Boulevard, including where the Dilworth Starbucks is today.

During the Eastland Mall vote, council member Dimple Ajmera said the board has received many emails requesting a delay for the vote and expressing concerns about the future of Eastland’s skateboard park, open-air market and other issues.

Discussions on those topics will continue, even after rezoning approval, Ajmera said. “We do need to address economic opportunities in east Charlotte,” she said, adding many residents must travel out of the district for work.

Council member Matt Newton, who represents the district that includes Eastland, said it was encouraging to see where the plan stands today.

“After this passes tonight, I’m really, really looking forward to what will become a very dynamic, wonderful development at the Eastland site,” he said.

Other rezoning petitions approved on Monday:

  • A ratification to a rezoning approved 10-1 last week for the Ballantyne Reimagined project passed 8-3 on Monday. The ratification was needed to reflect changes made to the petition since the last planning commission meeting, including a slight increase in residential units in each of the three proposed phases. During the vote, council members Braxton Winston and Victoria Watlington questioned why the development didn’t contemplate any affordable units at or below 30% of the area median income. Jeff Brown of Moore & Van Allen, who represented Northwood, said the master plan agreement provided reliable affordability levels, and the developers felt it was appropriate to start at 50% AMI. Mayor Vi Lyles said the AMI levels were set as part of the negotiations. Council members Winston, Newton and Renee Johnson (who voted down the rezoning last week) voted in opposition to the ratification for the rezoning.
  • A petition by Dominion Realty Partners to develop up to 325 apartments at a former Fifth Third Bank branch on Fairview Road in SouthPark. The plan calls for a 15-story tower up to 185 feet in height and up to 1,500 square feet of nonresidential uses. Hilary Larsen, chair of the SouthPark Association of Neighborhoods, said in a letter to the city the community nonprofit was in support of the petition, noting the developer made commitments to two priority items for SPAN. Dominion has said it will donate $150,000 to the Housing Trust Fund and another $150,000 to The Loop project in SouthPark.
  • A petition by 2901 LLC, affiliated with RE/MAX Executive, to redevelop the existing office building at 2901 Coltsgate Road into a six-story, 96,000-square-foot office building with 3,500 square feet of retail space. A five-story parking structure would also be developed on the site.
  • A petition by JACo Acquisition LLC, affiliated with Washington, D.C., developer Akridge, to allow transit-oriented development uses at Distribution and Dunavant streets in South End. Akridge and Kettler, also based in D.C., will develop a 400-unit apartment community at the site. The firms purchased land in April and, executives said at the time, they plan to break ground on a project within 12 to 18 months.

Read the original article in the Charlotte Business Journal.