Saturday, June 23, 2007

Biking for booty

A beer and wine tasting party will be held on Friday, June 29 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. to support Charlotte-based 24 Hours of Booty , which runs the Official 24-Hour Cycling Event of the Lance Armstrong Foundation in Myers Park on July 27-28. The "Hops & Vine" fundraiser will take place at Dillon Natural Health in Elizabeth at 406 Louise Avenue (near 7th and Hawthorne). Tickets cost $15 per person. Details: Christina Dekraay at 704-226-6580 or at christinadekraay AT

Connecting Duo at CBC with Merry Oaks

The Merry Oaks Neighborhood Association board had a cybermeeting this month, via email, and agreed on a letter to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department about Merry Oaks connectivity with Duo at CBC:

The Merry Oaks neighborhood has a strong value around pedestrian, bicycle and public transit use. As evidence, please note that we have successfully lobbied the City and County for in-place ped/bike trails to the adjacent Plaza Midwood neighborhood and to the Merry Oaks School Campus. Many of our residents use the bike lanes and CATS buses on Central Avenue for commuting.

Consistent with this, we strongly support eventual public bicycle and pedestrian connectivity from Tuscan’s proposed development Duo @ BCB to the interior of the neighborhood (Cosby Place).
This will allow current residents to more easily walk to CATS buses on Central Avenue. It will also allow Duo @ CBC residents to walk/bicycle to the Briar Creek Greenway/CDOT connector off Arnold Drive which takes them over the creek and through the woods to Plaza Midwood.

However, we do not support a full extension of Briar Creek Road for eventual vehicular access to the interior of the neighborhood.

Be aware that we fully understand and support the City’s connectivity policy with regard to new subdivisions. However, in the case of our existing very small neighborhood, we do not see compelling reasons to add additional vehicular connectivity to the interior of our neighborhood.

---We only have around 450 homes with no possibility for vehicular connectivity to any other neighborhood. Therefore, there is adequate ingress/egress from the neighborhood for our residents.

---Signalized ingress/egress at Briar Creek Road may encourage cut-through traffic from Eastway Drive. While we acknowledge that the connectivity policy exists precisely to provide this kind of option, in this case it could be devastating to the dead-end Cosby Place and other small neighborhood streets.

Tuscan’s plans call for minimizing impervious surface and significant tree save on this heavily forested parcel. We are concerned that a public street would compromise this intention.

Thank you for considering our concerns about this.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Briar Creek and Central Avenue: the land

Two images here show the topography and an aerial view of the land at Briar Creek Road and Central Avenue, where two new developments are going. Briar Creek (the creek) is in the upper left corner of each image.
A third development is nearby, at the corner of Briar Creek Road and U.S. 74 (Independence Boulevard).
Two highlights:
1. Road connectivity from the back of The Duo (outlined approximately in red) to Cosby Ave. in the Merry Oaks neighborhood would seem to require a heavy investment to cross a creek bed. It appears mostly dry this year, but a bike and walking path would live much more lightly on the land than a real road. The right of way is there already, for electrical lines serving the property. The developed area to the left on the aerial map is Birchcroft Apartments. Developer Rip Farris has reached an agreement with the owners of that property and says he'll announce plans for it later. It's lower in elevation than the Duo; the existing swimming pool there sits about where a pond was back in the day, old-timers say.
2. Specifications for The Vyne (outlined approximately in yellow) suggest sunbathing and picnics at the corner of Central Ave. and Briar Creek, within one's own fully secure gated, green community.

The development websites:
Industry 29 at Independence and Briar Creek. Slow-loading, Flash-heavy website. Large square footage compared to the other developments, close to a highway, relatively smallish parcel of land.
The Vyne, on the old Plummer property. Small condos, "green," gated community. High elevation in general.
Duo at CBC. Large parcel of land, heavily wooded and sloping. "Green" duplexes planned with more development later.

Images courtesy of Terraserver.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Briar Creek and Central Avenue development update

Renfrow property
Doug Smith of The Charlotte Observer updates what's happening at Briar Creek and Central Avenue here. The link won't last forever, so here are a few highlights, from his reporting, with some background from The Merry Oaks neighborhood newslettter and neighborhood discussions:
Ray "Rip" Farris III of Tuscan Development has come to terms with the owner of Birchcroft apartments at 3143 Central Ave. next to Tuscan's planned development on 8.5 acres on the northeast side of Central Avenue, backing up to the Merry Oaks neighborhood. The first phase of Tuscan’s $17 million development – Duo at CBC – will be 58 duplex condos. The 8.5-acre site’s second phase of condos will “push the architectural envelope," but details won’t be unveiled until duplexes sell out, he said.
Farris said it's too early to be specific about plans for the Birchcroft site, but “I can say our project is getting ready to triple in size and offer a diverse range of elements.”
Of course, a Flash website has been created for the project. It just provides a form to sign up for email alerts.
Details: two-and three-bedroom duplex condos. Five have been sold. Price: $200,000 to $240,000, Building exteriors mainly in natural wood. Extensive use of sustainable materials, “rain chains” instead of gutters, optional upgrades of bamboo floors and carpet tile from recycled materials. Architect: BB+M Architecture. Tuscan will start building a model unit in two weeks and finish it in the third quarter. Buyers are to begin occupying condos in about 12 months, Farris said. Sales: My Townhome Realty. Reservations to be taken starting June 13. Sales event planned for June 21 at The Watermark, 1355 Greenwood Cliff.

Topography: the front part of the Renfrow property is high, offering possible skyline views, as the Plummer property across Central Avenue could have done. A small branch, barely a creek, runs through part of it. Birchcroft is low, and back in the day included a pond, before the apartments were built, long-time Merry Oaks residents have said. It appears the pond was near where the apartments' swimming pool now sits. How that will affect development remains to be seen, but one could hope that if the project is "green," runoff and topography will be considerations. Briar Creek is within a mile of the development, and has been getting cleaner because of past commitments from the residents of Merry Oaks.
Interested folks can look at the area with Google Maps.
Connectivity: Questions remain about Tuscan's plans for connectivity with the Merry Oaks neighborhood. A right-of-way called "Myrtlewood" street or avenue previously went through the Renfrow property, connecting to Cosby Avenue in the Merry Oaks neighborhood. With beautiful new biking and walking trails near Merry Oaks Elementary and at the Merry Oaks Greenway, the development offers opportunity to continue that focus, so residents across Central Avenue and in the new development can access existing trail investments. In addition, safe, walkable paths for children would enhance the attractiveness of the elementary school to nearby residents. Several of the new bikers and runners of the Merry Oaks trails have been from the other side of Central Avenue or from Plaza Midwood.

Update on The Vyne, a 99-unit project priced from the $120,000s to the $180,000s, across Central Avenue: Citiline Resortline Development and Construction has sold 20 of 66 first-phase condos, said Citiline’s Tim Crawford.