Aug 10, 2017 - Real Estate

Can we please make that giant hole by Quail Hollow a nature preserve?

For years, visitors to Quail Hollow Club have been treated to views of a massive fenced-in eyesore on their way down Gleneagles Road.

Owned by Dee-Dee Harris and Harris Land Co., this property has become something of an inside joke for long-time Charlotteans. For nearly three decades, there’s been speculation about whether anything will ever be built on this prime piece of real estate.

Every year around golf tournament time, we in the local media check in on its progress, or lack thereof. Wells Fargo Championship attendees are by now well-accustomed to seeing it.

Of course, the area has a little more prominence this week with the PGA Championship — one of golf’s four major tournaments — in town. More than 200,000 people are expected to file past this property over the course of the week.

There have been so many failed plans to develop this land in the past three decades.

The piece of land was first rezoned for commercial use in 1989 (look at the vintage city documents!).

But it took until the early 2000s for there to be any concrete plans for it. At that time, Harris wanted to bring in a Saks Fifth Avenue and a five-star hotel as part of a $200 million project. But in 2004, Harris asked the city of Charlotte for money to help bring it to fruition, the Observer reported at the time, warning that the deal would fall apart without public support. That’s exactly what happened.

A full decade later, Harris went back before the Charlotte City Council for a rezoning that would allow 350 apartments or condos. The name for the development at this point: Quail Hollow Village.

The idea was to have a wellness center, salon and spa, bank branch, pharmacy, high-end restaurants and cafes to go along with homes.

The drawings were reminiscent of Phillips Place in SouthPark (which was developed by Lincoln Harris — yes, the same family).

Images by Paresi Design Studio and BHM Architects, as presented to the city council.

With each passing year, this feels less and less likely. When I last personally touched base with Dee-Dee Harris in 2015, she described the situation as complex.

So here’s what I’m thinking: Let’s make it a nature preserve.

This 19-acre property represents one of the last major tracts of undeveloped land in south Charlotte.

[Agenda story: Charlotte will run out of real estate to develop by 2030]

It’s already teeming with biodiversity. I trip over rabbits every time I jog by there. Hawks circle the skies. There are snakes, for sure. I’m pretty sure there might be wild turkeys. And lots of mosquitos.

The flora is as stunning as the fauna. I mean, look at this.

From the satellite view, you can tell there’s already water here. I’m picturing a path around the pond.

Maybe even a bench atop this hill.

I am not a lawyer or urban planning professional, so I’m not sure what it would take to do this.

The land was appraised by the county at $10.6 million, so this is valuable property. I don’t expect Dee-Dee Harris to give it away to Mecklenburg County.

But perhaps there’s some way for her to give the public permission to fix it up a bit.

Either that, or let’s just put in a Starbucks.


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