VOTE NO TO CIRCA REZONING TO 4-STORY 32,000 SF & 2-STORY 3,600 SF AT PROVIDENCE AND LAUREL

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A rezoning petition (#2017-050) was originally filed in February 2017 by Circa Investments, LLC to redevelop 3 historic bungalows into a 4-story 32,000 square foot mixed use building with retail, office and residential on Crescent Avenue.  A revised Site Plan was submitted in June 2018 proposing a 4-story 32,000 square foot mixed use building with retail and residential on Crescent Avenue and a 3,600 SF office building on Laurel Avenue. All of this development and only 30 parking spaces.  There will be overflow parking on Crescent Avenue, Willoughby Street and Circle Avenue where the streets are already FULL.  The parcels total 0.77 acres and span from Crescent Avenue to Laurel Avenue (behind the Ben & Jerry's building). The request is to rezone from B-1 and O-2 to NS (Neighborhood Services).

The primary issues are:

SIZE OF BUILDINGS   A 50 foot tall, 32,000 square foot building along with another building of 3,600 square foot - all on .77 of an acre is intrusive. Specifically, the proposed 50 foot building height is incompatible as most nearby structures are 40 feet or less in height.

INADEQUATE PARKING  Simple math: 2 cars per each residential unit equals 20 parking spaces. For retail and office at 1 space per 300 square feet equals 25 parking spaces, for a total of 45 parking spaces.  This does not include residential guest parking.  The petition is proposing 30 spaces. 

The neighborhood is already OVER PARKED

TRAFFIC  The traffic pattern is hazardous.  As CDOT notes, having both the entrance and exit on Crescent Avenue is ill advised.  It should enter on Crescent and exit on Laurel/Cherokee with the stoplight. 

NOTE:  THIS HAS BEEN CHANGED ON AN UPDATED SITE PLAN.  ENTRANCE ON CRESCENT.  EXIT ON LAUREL/CHEROKEE. UPDATED SITE PLAN AVAILABLE ONLINE.

The secondary issue is:

The design is not in keeping with the neighborhood.  

Architect's statement from Community Meeting as follows:

“Tippett described the building as having a brick skin, painted white, with dark, bronze colored metal windows, and carriage lanterns on the first floor. He indicated the fourth floor would be dark in color, similar to the window frames, to make it look more like a conservatory.  A neighbor asked his estimation of the architectural style.

Tippett described as “1930’s Industrial Modernism” may be the closest descriptor. Neighbors expressed concern that the building would not blend with the street.”

This DOES NOT FIT with our neighborhood.

The City's Planning Department released its Pre Hearing Staff Analysis Friday, July 13th (http://ww.charmeck.org/Planning/Rezoning/2017/045-060/2017-050%20staff%20analysis%20prehearing.pdf

Here are excerpts from the Staff Analysis:

TRAFFIC:
"Current Zoning:
Existing Use: 160 trips per day (based on 8,644 square feet of office/warehouse uses).
Entitlement: 1,110 trips per day (based on 8,750 square feet of retail/ office uses).
Proposed Zoning: 1,130 trips per day (based on 4,000 square feet of retail, 3,600 SF of office uses and ten residential dwelling units)."

SIZE:
"... the proposed residential use is inconsistent with the Elizabeth Area Plan."

SAFETY:
"Revise the access by making Crescent Avenue an "entrance only" and S. Laurel Avenue an "exit only."

"CDOT has safety and operational concerns with the proximity of the current driveway location ("the current site plan reduces the distance of the site driveway on Crescent Avenue to Providence Road intersection from 100 feet to 60 feet, less than the preferred separation of driveways to intersections, the one-way proposed circulation alleviates some operational concerns with the closer driveway." 

According to multiple City documents that dictate the guidelines for development in Crescent Heights (Elizabeth Area Plan, and Centers, Corridors and Wedges Growth Framework), this proposal does not meet key criteria. For example, page 8 of the Elizabeth Area Plan (link: http://ww.charmeck.org/Planning/Land%20Use%20Planning/ElizabethAreaPlan/AdoptedPlan/ElizabethAreaPlanAdopted.pdf ) says that Wedge Areas (which Crescent Heights is defined to be) should "continue the current land use pattern of predominantly low density residential uses, with limited moderate density multifamily" and should "ensure that non-residential uses along the edges do not encroach further into the residential area." Additionally, the Elizabeth Area Plan addresses the future use for the specific parcel in question on the Laurel side (a bungalow) and recommends the scale/size of the building to be maintained (p. 35, L-31):

"These three locations are small-scale office uses, often in former residential buildings. The existing building scale and size of these office uses should be maintained, and these non-residential uses should not encroach further into the existing residential areas adjacent to these parcels."

Another document, the Charlotte Centers, Corridors and Wedges Growth Framework (link: http://ww.charmeck.org/Planning/Land%20Use%20Planning/CentersCorridorsWedges/CentersCorridorsWedges(Adopted).pdf ) states that the expectation for Wedges such as Crescent Heights in the future is for:

"existing neighborhoods to be preserved and enhanced; ...
neighborhood-scale commercial and civic uses located to serve the immediate area; ...
greater emphasis on safe, convenient and comfortable pedestrian and bicycle facilities;"

We do not believe a large 50' tall 4-story building is "neighborhood scale" in the context of Crescent Heights, and it does not accomplish any of the above three above goals.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Crescent Ave., it is largely a residential street with many homes dating back to the early 1900s. Crescent Heights was one of the first neighborhoods developed in the area, predating our neighbors Eastover and Myers Park. We are a small neighborhood fighting to keep the historic character and charm of our street and to prevent a massive and out of place mixed use development from ruining it!

The neighborhood has voiced our disapproval of the size of this building height. The petitioner has been unwilling to meaningfully adjust the height/size of the building and over the past few months has only made minor design changes to the building. Additionally, the parking lot exits onto Crescent Avenue which will create unsafe traffic conditions and further backups/congestion in the area.

The Public Hearing is scheduled for Monday, July 16th.  This is why we are asking you to please sign this petition in support of City Council voting NO to this rezoning.

Link to Rezoning Plan:

http://ww.charmeck.org/Planning/Rezoning/2017/045-060/2017-050%20site%20plan%204th%20rev.pdf
 
 

 



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