By DAVID BORAKS
Construction of the MSC Industrial Direct corporate headquarters off Harbor Place Drive in Davidson is widely expected to spur related development in the coming years. The question is, what will it look like? Davidson’s Planning Board on Monday night got its first look at the draft of a new plan for the Exit 30 area that envisions new hotels, housing, offices and shops. The plan also incorporates a new I-77 overpass – with a separate pedestrian and bike path – that could improve the connection between Davidson Landing and the rest of town.
The Circles @ 30 Small Area Plan was drawn up with the help of consultants The Lawrence Group. The process included a 3-day public workshop in June. Still to come are formal discussions and a vote at the Planning Board, and consideration by the Town Board, possibly in the spring.
The plan is a first for the area, where future development currently is governed by a mix of approved plans, some of which were drawn many years ago. “We have not had a small area plan here over the past 30 years,” Town Planning Manager Ben McCrary told the Planning Board Monday night.
The Exit 30 area has developed from practically nothing over the past 10 years to include a variety of offices, the Homewood Suites, Davidson Day School and Community School of Davidson, the Rushco Davidson Market, and the Davidson Commons shopping center, anchored by a Harris Teeter that opened in 2008. In June, New York-based MSC announced plans for a “co-headquarters” off Exit 30 that could create as many as 400 jobs over the next five years.
At the same time, some development ideas fizzled, including a proposed Sheraton Hotel and conference center, a 6-story luxury condo tower on Lake Cornelius, a 7-story retail and office building, and a Walgreen’s pharmacy. But as the economy comes back to life and development resumes in the Lake Norman area, Davidson’s Exit 30 stands out with land ready for new projects, Mr. McCrary said after Monday’s meeting.
Whatever form the plan eventually takes, it will be a guide for how the Exit 30 area develops. “One of the important elements of this plan is that we have a limited amount of real estate in this area,” Mr. McCrary said. So it’s important the town look carefully at its options, he said.
Key points in the Lawrence Group’s draft plan include:
- Developing Jetton Street as a walkable, retail “Main Street,” with on-street parking, outdoor dining, and storefronts.
- More mixed-use developments along Griffith Street and at both roundabouts, with buildings of 2 to 4 stories
- A hotel and conference center on Lake Cornelius.
- Public waterfront access at the hotel and conference center.
- A mix of residential and workplace buildings on Davidson Gateway Drive, compatible with the existing townhouses and live-work units
- Some kind of large community garden or “stormwater garden” in an existing Duke Energy easement that cuts a wide swath through the area and makes some land undevelopable.
- A rebuilt Exit 30 interchange, with improved ramps, traffic circles east and west of the highway, a new bridge and what Mr. McCrary called an “off-road corridor” that will carry cyclists and walkers over the highway.
HOTEL AND HOUSING POSSIBILITIES
One of the plan’s more intriguing ideas is the possibility for another hotel at the exit. Mr. McCrary said town officials “have had some conversations with hotel developers” about a possible development. This summer, Wilkesboro-based Spectrum Hospitality Management bought three acres at Davidson Gateway and Peninsula Drives. So far, the company has not submitted a development application.
Homewood Suites opened in 2008, becoming the first hotel off the highway exit. Originally it was expected to be one of two hotels there. But plans for the proposed Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center faded when the project lost its bank financing as the economy worsened in 2008-9.
There’s also the possibility of another hotel on the north side of Griffith Street. Last April, the Town Board approved several changes in the 2004 conditional master plan for that area, called the Northeast Quadrant. Among other things, the changes removed a one-hotel limit in the area. That means another hotel could be built north of Griffith, possibly at the Jetton and Griffith roundabout, opposite the Exxon, Mr. McCrary said.
The Exit 30 plan also addresses another parcel – Davidson Commons East – that has been eyed for different uses in recent years. The 4.6 acres are at Davidson Gateway Drive and Griffith Street, east of Community School of Davidson. Original plans called for 16 single-family houses. Commissioners in 2010 approved a plan that eliminated the residential use and converted the entire project to commercial use.
The new plan suggests the site is appropriate for either small shops and offices or multifamily residential development.
On Monday, Planning Board members asked a few questions, but did not discuss the new Exit 30 area plan. That’s expected to happen at the Planning Board meeting in January and possibly February. After that, it would go to the Town Board for discussion and approval.
See more about the Exit 30 Small Area Plan on the town website.
Download a copy of the draft Circles @ 30 plan, PDF (about 8MB)
June 20, 2012, “MSC Industrial plans ‘co-HQ’ at Exit 30, up to 400 jobs”
All previous coverage of MSC Industrial.
April 2012 changes , adopted by the town board. (PDF)
Jan. 18, 2008, “2008 may be the year of Exit 30″ – a previous overview of growth in the Exit 30 area.
Archive of DavidsonNews.net coverage of the Exit 30 area.