May 21, 2024 - News

Too-tall housing development is a testament to Elizabeth's identity crisis

Rendering of multi-family building

Main lobby on 7th Street. Courtesy of Centrum Realty & Development

A 78-foot housing development in Elizabeth stalled Monday night because Charlotte leaders say it's too tall for the fast-changing neighborhood.

Why it matters: This is another example of how visions for Elizabeth's future are competing.

Details: The latest proposal for the East 7th Street project — between Lamar Avenue and Clement Avenue — comprises 193 residential units, 5,600 square feet of retail, and underground parking with 1.2 spots per unit, according to a city presentation.

  • The side of the building that backs up to homes would only go up to 45 feet.
  • A church and three old vacant buildings on the 1.6-acre site were razed last year.

Driving the news: Charlotte City Council voted to defer the rezoning because some members feared the height would set a precedent for taller buildings. City staff prefers the structure only reach about 65 feet.

  • Council nearly denied the rezoning entirely, which would have blocked the developer from reapplying for two years. But district representative Danté Anderson fought that motion.
  • Without the rezoning, a similar building could still be constructed on the site but would have to abide by the existing general commercial zoning regulations.

The other side: Zoning Committee chairperson Douglas Welton told council the extra height allowance is an exceptional trade-off for more housing in walking distance of transit, businesses and parks.

  • Plus, Welton said, this design doesn't look like "a cube."

What they're saying: Elizabeth Community Association has talked with Chicago-based Centrum Realty & Development since it bought the land over a year ago to craft an agreeable site plan.

  • Evan Kettler, who chairs the Elizabeth Community Association Land Use and Development team, tells Axios he was disappointed in council's decision and the opposition from some neighbors.

"It was never going to be a park there. There's not going to be single-family homes on 7th Street," he said. "Our role is to navigate to the best possible outcome for the community, and that's what we did here. And that's what was voted down."

  • Kettler says ECA challenged Centrum to design a high-quality, beautiful building that gracefully transitioned to the homes nearby. The design is extra tall near the street so it can be lower in the rear without sacrificing square footage.

Between the lines: Neighbors are concerned about the development introducing new drivers to the area, who will park their cars on the streets outside their homes.

  • It's a similar issue in Dilworth, where the city is considering a parking permit program to reserve street parking for residents.

The big picture: Elizabeth residents are at odds over whether establishing a local historic district is worthwhile to preserve some character amid all the development.

  • The Historic Elizabeth Neighborhood Foundation is leading the controversial campaign. More than half of the property owners must sign a petition for the designation process to move to a city council vote.
Rendering of multi-family building
Townhomes along 7th Street. Rendering: Courtesy of Centrum Realty & Development
Rendering of multi-family building
7th Street and Lamar Avenue. Rendering: Courtesy of Centrum Realty & Development
Rendering of multi-family building
Main lobby entrance. Rendering: Courtesy of Centrum Realty & Development
Rendering of multi-family building
Parking garage entrance. Rendering: Courtesy of Centrum Realty & Development
building rendering
Corner of 7th Street and Clement Avenue. Rendering: Courtesy of Centrum Realty & Development
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