The Davidson Planning Board voted Monday to recommend map and text amendments for the Davidson East site off N.C. 73 to allow a revised mix of retail, residential and office/industrial uses on the property. The amendments next go to the Town Board, which is expected to vote on the changes at its Sept. 13 meeting.
In Monday’s vote, the Planning Board ultimately decided to recommend a version of the map proposed by Community One Bank of Asheboro, which owns most of the site. The board voted 5-2 in favor of the map, with members Martha Jenkins and Autumn Michael voting against. Community One’s map was similar to the town’s, but allows for slightly more residential development than the town envisioned.
[The board on Monday agreed to put off a discussion of amending the planning ordinance to allow drive-through windows, which are currently prohibited. Planning board member Vince Winegardner, who is challenging Mayor John Woods in the November election, had asked to consider the drive-through issue at Monday's meeting. The issue could come up again at the Planning Board in September or October.]
The town originally proposed the rezoning as part of a broad effort to promote commercial uses that would expand Davidson’s tax base and create jobs. Monday’s recommendations followed months of meetings between Davidson officials and representatives of Community One Bank. The process included many presentations at the Planning Board and Town Board by town planners, the property owners, and by Davidson citizens interested in the process.
The map divides the 180 acres into three main zones: “neighborhood center,” to allow shops and small offices fronting on NC 73; “flex campus,” which would allow corporate offices and light industrial uses in the middle of the site; and “neighborhood general,” allowing residential development.
A related set of NC 73 planning ordinance text amendments passed unanimously. They include language that defines new designations such as “campus workplace building” and “flex frontage building,” two kinds of uses that might be part of a development on the site.
Walter Fields, a Charlotte-based planner working for Community One, said the bank developed a “hypothetical pro forma,” or financial plan, that showed additional residential development would help pay for other site improvements that could make the “employment campus” sections of the plan more viable.
“Clearly, from the pro forma, you’ve got to have a balance of development,” Mr. Fields said Tuesday. However, he said, “We’ve been very mindful about what the town is trying to accomplish.”
“We still think there needs to be a mix of residential, both single-family and multi-family, and retail here,” Mr. Fields said. He said the rezoning is really only a guess at how the property might develop, and how the bank and town might be able to attract interest in the site.
“We’re all sort of taking a shot in the dark here, because we don’t have a specific developer,” he said, adding that he and the bank are “very gratified with the Planning Board’s recommendation.”
The Town Board years ago approved a master plan for a mixed-use development of shops, homes and offices on the 180-acre site. But that development, led by developer Frank Jacobus, failed with the real estate market’s collapse. Community One Bank foreclosed on most of the property in December 2009.
After that, town and regional economic development officials began eyeing the property as a potential site for a regional corporate office or industrial park.
Planning Board member George Berger told DavidsonNews.net the long process that led to Monday’s recommendations brought a healthy debate between the town’s goals and the property owner’s desire to create a viable plan. He said in an email:
The crux of the matter pitted two fundamental concepts against each other – whether the property owners should have as much flexibility as possible to work within an existing real estate market and current economy to put a project together (in the hope, of course, of selling the property to someone who will actually develop it sensitively and with Davidson’s community interest and Guiding Principles in mind) … or to base our decision fundamentally on the Town Board’s guidance (as outlined as a goal in the Comprehensive Plan) that the town should provide for less residentially- and more commercially-zoned property. [That would allow] job creation and increased commercial tax base … giving the town a better jobs-housing balance and a more balanced fiscal bottom line.
RELATED DOCUMENTS & LINKS
Aug. 29, 2011, Community One proposed maps for Davidson East. (PDF)
Revised planning text amendments were not available this week. We’ll post as soon as we can get them. Below are documents presented to the Planning Board before Monday’s meeting.
Aug. 24, 2011, Town’s revised draft map of the proposed planning zones for Davidson East (PDF).
See all previous coverage of Davidson East on our Real Estate & Home page, under the “Davidson East” tag.