Town staff, along with a citizen committee and the consulting group HNTB, have finished the first stages of designing a small area plan for the Lawyers Road and I-485 interchange. The town hosted three charrette’s this month to get input from citizens on how they would like the interchange to look in the future.
“It’s a consensus of all the participants and the public came up with at the meetings,” Deputy Town Manager Lee Bailey said.
The most prominent part of the development is the Bridges at Mint Hill mall. General Growth Partners, the mall developer which owns a majority of the land between Bain School, Lawyers Roads and Interstate 485, had originally planned to build the mall with Childress Klein. However, it was announced this week that Simon Properties, owner of South Park Mall in south Charlotte, is seeking to acquire General Growth for $10 billion.
Which ever company builds the mall, the town is creating a plan that will guide development for years to come.
The plan drawn up by the town with the help of HNTB, a consulting group, shows development possibilities on both sides of I-485. The southeastern part of the plan is mostly the retail part of the Bridges development. The other side of the interstate is mostly zoned for upscale office buildings, town homes and some retail along Allen Black Road.
One noticeable feature of the preliminary plan is the large amount of green space reserved. Restrictions created by the endangered Carolina heelsplitter have limited development to smaller scales.
“We were really limited as to what you could do,” Bailey said. “The typical developer would want to max out the space, but that can’t be done here.”
The plan also proposes more than one entrance to the Bridges at Mint Hill site. The main entrance will be along Lawyers Road, but there could also be an entrance from Allen Black Road—an overpass that crosses I-485—as well as an entrance from Quail Park Drive, a road that runs parallel to I-485 from Fairview Road and dead-ends.
Other ideas that came from the meetings: Space for a possible YMCA and a conference center.
Bailey said a good example of a town which utilized a master plan to guide development is Rock Hill. Twenty years ago, the town developed a plan for the Dave Lyle Boulevard and Interstate 77 interchange. There have been few deviations from the plan over the years, and today the mixed use project is nearly complete. Bailey said Rock Hill deserved a “pat on the back” because as the elected officals changed over the years, the plan stayed in tact.
The next step in developing the plan is to crunch the numbers. On April 13, the Small Area Committee will meet to see if the plan that came out of the charrettes will fit the needs of the economy and market place and to see if the town of Mint Hill can support it. Next, the plan will be sent to the planning board and eventually the Board of Commissioners for approval.
The final plan will be used to guide the town in the development of the I-485 intersection for the next several decades.
The red on the left represents retail where the mall will go; Blue is offices. The road in the middle is I-485; to the left is Lawyers Road and the right is Allen Black Road.