Community

New Beaty St. valuation is double Town of Davidson’s

By Kate Stevens. Development plans in this picture-postcard college town continue to move fast despite one volunteer organization’s efforts to preserve its trademark green space and hold elected officials accountable for what organization members say is unchecked growth.

Save Davidson, an online Facebook group with more than 1,500 members, has mobilized since its inception in February, and on Aug. 3rd, held its first SHINE—Sharing Helpful Information Now with Everyone—meeting to educate town residents about the proposed developments that could change the Davidson brand.

“We’re worried about the overall quality of life in Davidson,” said Save Davidson member Jamie Ramsden before more than 100 people gathered at the SHINE meeting at a micro-brewery in Cornelius.

The group also hopes to hold political forums or debates to help voters choose the best candidate running for mayor and the five-seat member Davidson Board of Commissioners this fall, Ramsden said.

But right now, the organization is focused on stopping a proposed project on Beaty Street called the “Luminous” development, Ramsden said.

On July 11, Davidson Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to enter into contract negotiations with Davidson Development Partners for the $1.65 million sale and subsequent development of approximately 18 acres of town-owned land on Beaty Street.

The town is currently forming a committee to negotiate a contract with the developers, said Cristina Shaul, the town’s public information officer. The board of commissioners will eventually vote on the contract once it has been reviewed by attorneys for both sides, but Shaul said she is unsure when the vote would happen.

Davidson Development Partners hopes to turn the land into its proposed “Luminous” development, featuring 138 residential units, a 135-room hotel, 28,000 square-feet of retail space and a seven acre-park.

The potential annual tax revenue to the town would be about  $350,000, according to the town web site.

But Save Davidson founding members Denise Beall said the group is against the “Luminous” project because the mixed-use, high-density plan is in direct opposition to the intent of now deceased landowner Venie Clontz who sold the property to the town beginning in 1985 for use as a park.

Beall, who lives behind Beaty Street, said current town officials have not been transparent during the development process, especially when town officials denied the existence of documents stating Clontz wanted the property to be used for recreational purposes.

A sale contract and correspondence regarding the sale did turn up after an open records request, Beall said.

“We were basically steamrolled by our town elected officials on the issue,” said Beall.

Although the “Luminous” plan does include a seven-acre park, Beall said the use of the park would primarily be for hotel guests and not Davidson residents.

What’s more is that two of the seven acres of the proposed park includes a pond and four of the seven acres include a deep gully watershed that cannot be built upon, Beall said.

Shaul said the Beaty Street property was not deed restricted to only allow a park.

Save Davidson is also concerned a town appraisal has low-balled the value of the property.

On Aug 24, the group released an appraisal from a firm it hired to obtain an outside opinion on the Beaty Street property’s valuation.

Valbridge Property Advisors appraised the property at $4.6 million, more than double the town of Davidson’s appraisal of $1.9 million, according to the citizen group.

The $1.9 million town appraisal, released in July 2017 by T.B. Harris & Associates, was an updated valuation from the same firm’s $1.6 million appraisal originally conducted in spring 2016.

Save Davidson members are concerned the town is trying to sell the land at a low price and that the property’s private developer could plan to sell a portion of the land for a hotel at at much higher price.

Save Davidson is also gearing up to fight several other proposed developments that could bring more cars to the town’s roads and put a strain on infrastructure, including the proposed construction of a four-story, 115-room hotel with plaza and retail space to be built on two acres at Griffith Street and Davidson Gateway.

On Aug. 4, town leaders held a site walk along the property and later held a lunch presentation for the public to learn about the plan and give feedback.

The proposed site is across the street from the lower grade building of the Community School of Davidson, prompting concern from parents about student safety and ongoing concerns about parking.

The project includes 113 parking spaces for the hotel, which is 36 spaces less than required by town ordinance for such a property, Short said.

The project identifies a mix of on-site surface parking, shared parking with a neighboring property and on-street parking spaces, Shaul said. Some of these spaces already exist and some will have to be constructed, Shaul said.

“In sum, this totals 113 spaces, which is less than the 149 spaces required by the Davidson Planning Ordinance,” Shaul said. “Any deviation from the ordinance standards, such as counting on-street parking spaces on an adjacent block, would need to be approved as a condition specific to the proposal.”

Members of SHINE want town leaders to demand the developer live up to all 149 parking spaces.

A public hearing on the project has been tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12 with the planning board scheduled to make a recommendation Sept. 25, according to the town web site.

The Davidson Board of Commissioners may elect to vote on the proposal Oct. 10, according to the town web site.

The Potts Street development by Crescent Communities is another project Save Davidson is opposing because it is zoned for dense development and would be inappropriate for the area’s narrow streets, Beall said.

The project calls for the construction of 19 townhomes and 276 multi-family units on 23 acres at 513 Catawba Avenue near Potts Street, according to the town web site.

According to town plans, part of the development falls in the town of Davidson and part of it falls in the town of Cornelius.

Shaul said the Potts property is currently under technical review with Mecklenburg County.  Davidson town officials are also currently awaiting results from Cornelius regarding improvements along N.C. 115 and any potential realignment of Potts Street before moving forward with a public input session.

A transportation impact analysis is currently under development, according to the town web site.

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