TSW Park Project in Charlotte Sparks Growth

A large-scale urban redevelopment project in Charlotte, N.C., has been spotlighted by the Charlotte Observer. TSW carried out overall land planning work for the project.

Bryant Park Spurs Residential, Business Projects in the Re-Emerging Westside: Plans center on par
Charlotte Observer
August 14, 2007

One of Charlotte’s oldest parks will be the focal point of a massive urban redevelopment designed to create more homes, offices and stores on the westside.

Martin Grimes Development LLC plans 545 single-family houses, row houses, condo flats and apartments on 36 acres between West Morehead Street and Berryhill Road.

That’s near Bryant Park, a 6.6-acre public park off West Morehead completed in the 1930s, and a planned redevelopment of Radiator Specialty Co.’s 40 acres between West Morehead and Wilkinson Boulevard.

What makes this potentially a Next Big Thing for the westside is the way the developers are coordinating planning and adopting the name Bryant Park for a combined 76 acres.

When they began talking about a year ago, it became apparent that the public park could be the centerpiece, said Jim Merrifield of Merrifield Partners.

The Charlotte real estate firm is developing about 1 million square feet of offices and up to 2,000 residences for a joint venture including Crosland LLC and brothers Alan, Philip and Samuel Blumenthal, owners of the Radiator Specialty site.

Work is under way for the estimated $250 million project’s first tenant — the Charlotte School of Law, which will occupy a 102,000-square-foot building starting August 2008.

Frank Martin, a partner with Latham Grimes in Martin Grimes Development LLC (formerly Cameron Capital), said their success developing 147-home Lela Court in nearby Wesley Heights convinced them the timing was right for more housing.

They demolished the old Westwood Apartments and cleared other parcels for their portion of Bryant Park. The City Council approved a rezoning in June for the estimated $140 million residential project.

Westsiders have battled the stigma of blight and crime for decades, but an upswing in residential building, a new business park and a Wal-Mart Supercenter are changing perceptions.

The renewed interest prompted the city-county planning department and the city economic development office to study land uses, road realignments, utility improvement and others factors to encourage more economic development there.

Martin Grimes Development’s proposal meshes with a plan that grew out of that study and was approved in July by the City Council for a 300-acre area that includes Bryant Park, said city-county planner Kent Main.

‘Wesley Heights has been doing great things of late, and this just extends that farther out,’ he said. ‘It’s a great start toward other improvements on the westside as you head out Freedom Drive and Wilkinson Boulevard.’

Bryant Park’s high-density housing ‘is what we want to see as we work toward building the capacity we need for a future streetcar line,’ Main said.

The development plans and the law school’s commitment to the westside set the stage ‘for great things to continue to happen,’ said lawyer and former judge Shirley Fulton, who helped lead Wesley Heights’ comeback.

More homes should be good for the re-emerging area, she said, as long as prices are varied and longtime residents aren’t forced out by gentrification.

Martin Grimes Development plans condo flats priced from $175,000 to $195,000; row houses from $200,000 to $260,000; and single-family houses from $280,000 to $400,000.

The developers plan to work with the builders who participated in Lela Court on homes that would be similar in size, design and price range.

The apartment site is under contract to Carbon Thompson Development, a Herndon, Va., development company.

The developers expect to break ground by late this year on the initial for-sale units. The first single-family homeowners should be able to move-in by early 2009.

The for-sale housing probably will take about two years to complete. Apartment construction is expected to start by summer 2008.

The developers believe other investors will buy land and announce projects nearby as Bryant Park progresses, creating a multi-use community with West Morehead as the main street.

Bryant Park’s density and mixture of uses eventually could resemble South End, which has emerged over nearly two decades as a multi-use community along South Boulevard and the planned light-rail line, they say.

Pedestrian connections from Bryant Park to uptown and Wesley Heights will better as planned improvements are made to a greenway along Stewart Creek, Martin said.

For him, success would be a Bryant Park neighborhood with a variety of houses, one that appears to have evolved over a number of years like neighboring Wesley Heights.


Bryant Park Development

Location: 36-acre site between West Morehead Street and Berryhill Road.

Size: 295 for-sale residences and 250 rental apartments.

Specifics: 40 condo flats, $175,000-$195,000; 115 row houses, $200,000-$260,000; 140 single-family houses, $280,000-$400,000.

Architecture: Houses will be Victorian, Craftsman, Colonial Revival style; condos and apartments range from two stories to four stories atop parking.

Features: Mature trees, pocket parks, greenway, proposed streetcar line.

Timetable: Groundbreaking on for-sale units planned in late 2007 with first lots ready for builders in mid-2008. Buyer move-ins by early 2009. Apartment construction expected to start in summer 2008.

Development team: Martin Grimes Development LLC, project developer; Carbon Thompson Development (www.carbonthompson.com), apartment developer; Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates of Atlanta and Wirth & Associates of Charlotte, land planning.

Information: www.bryantparkneighborhood.com. DEVELOPMENT Doug Smith