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Steele Creek Area Plan Taking Shape

(November 14, 2010) The process to develop a Steele Creek Area Plan continues. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department staff presented a draft executive summary and maps for the plan last week. Staff will refine the maps and other parts of the plan based on input from the Citizens Advisory Committee and present these at a Community Meeting in January. The date and location of this meeting is yet to be determined.

Much of what is in the draft executive summary is consistent with citywide goals, including higher density, pedestrian-friendly centers, environmental protection, and transportation connectivity. But the plan will include many things that are specific to Steele Creek.

For more information, see the Steele Creek Area Plan web page. Under the November 9 heading, click on Agenda to see the Draft Executive Summary and maps. Click on PowerPoint Presentation to see descriptions of key plan components.

Her are some highlights of the plan so far:

Centers, Corridors, and Wedges

Steele CreekThe Centers, Corridors and Wedges Growth Framework is the City of Charlotte's adopted policy for organizing and guiding growth and development within the City of Charlotte.

Activity Centers have or will have a significant amount of nonresidential development. They include Mixed Use Activity Centers, which generally contain high intensity residential and retail development, and Industrial Centers, which are more low density. The Steele Creek Area Plan includes two Mixed Use Activity Centers (Whitehall/Ayrsley and RiverGate) and two Industrial Centers (the Westinghouse Center and the southern edge of the Shopton Road Center). 

The framework for Charlotte includes five growth corridors, which contain many areas that are appropriate for significant new growth. The West Corridor is located north of Steele Creek along Wilkinson Boulevard and I-85. The South Corridor is located along South Boulevard and includes portions of Steele Creek northeast of I-485 and east of S Tryon Street along Arrowood Road. This area is not within the Steele Creek Area Plan boundary, however.

Most of Steele Creek is in a wedge. Wedges consist generally of single family neighborhoods, interspersed with small areas of mixed use and commercial development; multi-family housing (typically in apartment complexes); and civic uses, such as schools, religious institutions, parks, fire stations and libraries.

Land Use

A major component of the Steele Creek Area Plan is land use. The following map shows the generalized draft concept plan. Most of what is in the plan corresponds to current or approved land use in Steele Creek.

 Steele Creek

Steele Creek   The map to the left shows detailed recommended land use. Click on the map or HERE to see a PDF version of this map.

The Draft Steele Creek Area Plan  includes four activity centers.

The staff presentation on November 9 provided little detail on the Whitehall/Ayrsley Mixed Use Activity Center, but current plans contain the most intensive development anticipated in Steele Creek. (See Whitehall Corporate Center Addition to Feature Eight Towers - March 22, 2008.)  The site plan for the southeast quadrant of the Arrowood Road/I-485 interchange includes a mixed-use development containing eight office towers with up to twelve stories and almost two million square feet, multi-family housing, and open plazas.

The RiverGate shopping center is the largest occupant of the RiverGate Mixed-Use Activity Center. This area contains 600,000 square feet of existing retail and office uses and has 1,775 residential units approved. Although vacant space is limited, the projected future development in the draft includes a mixture of residential, office, and retail development with parking structures wrapped with active ground floor uses. Buildings could be up to 6 stories and generally would front streets with parking at the rear. The draft plan calls for additional multi-family housing with up to 8 dwellings per acre just south of the current RiverGate shopping center.

The Westinghouse Industrial Center extends through the plan area along Westinghouse Boulevard from Shopton Road West to I-485 and is the largest industrial core in the Carolinas. This area is developed with over 20 million square feet of industrial development. Additional industrial development is appropriate, but not outside the current area zoned for industrial.

The Charlotte-Douglas Airport has been acquiring significant property in the northern area of Steele Creek. Much of this has been for airport expansion and construction of the new intermodal facility, but the airport also has purchased a significant amount of land within its noise corridors. This area is not suitable for residential development due to airport noise and likely will eventually be used for industrial purposes, This effect extends to the northern edge of the plan area. Much of this is already zoned for office or industrial use and includes a site for a new regional library.   

The draft plan includes four additional Community Centers. These would have up to 350,000 square feet of retail and office development.

The Palisades Town center is planned along York Road at the northern edge of The Palisades. The center originally was approved for 225,000 square feet of retail and office land uses, but developers are asking for a site plan amendment that will bring this to 325,000 square feet.

Most of the Berewick Town Center is outside the plan area, but the draft recommendation calls for mixed-use development, including retail, office, and residential, on the eastern side of Steele Creek Road. This is a change from the current land use.

Two other projected community centers would be located at the intersection of S Tryon Street and Westinghouse Boulevard and at the I-77/Westinghouse Boulevard interchange.

The plan includes two Neighborhood Centers, which would include up to 70,000 square feet of retail and office development, generally not large enough for a grocery store anchor. One is at the intersection of S Tryon Street and Shopton Road West and the second is at the intersection of Shopton Road West with the future extension of Winget Road. The second Neighborhood Center in the plan has previously been identified for residential development and seems like an unlikely site for a commercial center.

The plan does not acknowledge existing or potential retail development along S Tryon Street east of Moss Road up to Westinghouse Boulevard as a community or neighborhood center.

Most of the area in the plan is slated for residential, and most of this would be less than 4 dwelling units per acre. Even though most of these areas currently are zoned R-3 (up to 3 units per acre), 4 dwelling units per acre is the base density for the county. An exception is a area north of Brown-Grier Road and another area between Shopton Road and Arrowood Road which are identified for residential development up to 6 dwelling units per acre.

This residential area generally corresponds to the wedge in the city's growth framework. Institutional land uses are scatted throughout the wedge areas.


A second major component of the Steele Creek Area Plan is transportation, including roads, greenways, sidewalks, and other infrastructure that will help provide a safe, accessible, and efficient transportation network.

Steele Creek   The map to the left shows detailed recommended transportation network. Click on the map or HERE to see a PDF version of this map.

Roads generally are classified as boulevards, avenues, and local streets.

Steele Creek

Major planned upgrades include widening S Tryon Street to six lanes south to Steele Creek Road and widening Steele Creek Road, Brown-Grier Road, and Carowinds Boulevard to four lanes. New roads include an extension of Carowinds Boulevard to Shopton Road West that includes current sections of Sam Neely Road and Winget Road, a realignment of Choate Circle at S Tryon Street, a connector between Whitehall Park Drive and Arrowood Road across I-485, and a connector from Arrowood Road to Shopton Road. None of these projects currently are funded or scheduled for construction.

The plan includes many additional new local streets, but these are conceptual only. Alternate locations will be considered if they are consistent with connectivity goals.

Also among the transportation recommendations are improvements at several intersections. However, the draft does not include improvements to the Steele Creek Road/Sledge Road intersection, which is approved and funded, and inprovements to the Steele Creek Road/Erwin Road intersection, which is needed before the widening of Steele creek road is likely to occur.

What is missing from this map are additional greenways, especially extensions of the Walker Branch Greenway trail north of S Tryon Street (which are on the concept map) and an extension of the Steele Creek greenway trail north of Brown-Grier Road. Much the land needed for both of these extensions is already owned by the county or committed to be donated.

Please check the  Steele Creek Area Plan or Steele Creek Residents Association web sites for information about the Community Meeting that will be held in January so that you can have input to this plan that will guide development in Steele Creek for decades to come.  

To comment on this story, please visit the Steele Creek Residents Association Message Board.

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