By Kara Lopp
A proposed Mint Hill development could bring a right-in/right-out only entrance to the Mint Hill Library, additional library access from Lawyers Road and a raised pedestrian crosswalk on N.C. 51.
These are among several road changes Florida-based Stiles Corporation is suggesting as part of a planned mixed use development – called Mint Hill Commons – on about 54 acres bordered by Matthews-Mint Hill and Lawyers roads. The 65,000-square-foot retail shopping center development on about 11 acres at the front of the site, across from Jimmie’s Restaurant, would be anchored by an unnamed 49,098 square-foot grocery store. The remaining acreage is slated for single-family houses or townhouses, to be built in a second phase.
The company submitted a rezoning application this month to the town and a public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 13 at town hall, 4430 Mint Hill Village Lane. Commissioners could vote on the project by July, Senior Planner John Hoard said.
The company would also need commissioner approval to include a drive-thru pharmacy for the grocery store because drive-thrus aren’t allowed in the downtown overlay district.
If approved, construction could begin as early as the first quarter of 2014 fall and the retail portion of the project could be complete within a year, Scott MacLaren, Stiles’ senior vice president of real estate investment, said this week.
MacLaren said the company can’t yet name the mystery grocer, but an announcement should be coming soon. A check of the Stiles website shows the company has done extensive work with Publix.
According to the proposal, the retail project also would include four other retail/office buildings ranging from about 2,800 square feet to 6,500 square feet. The proposed pharmacy drive-thru would be sandwiched between the 2,800-square-foot building and the grocery store to make it not visible from N.C. 51, MacLaren said. Plans also show a 1/5 acre, or about 7,000-square-foot, pocket park featuring trees and benches near Matthews-Mint Hill Road in between the retail buildings. An eight-acre wooded area toward the back of the site will be undisturbed, according to the proposal. Stiles doesn’t know yet how a 1.19-acre parcel at the intersection of Matthews-Mint Hill Road and Hawthorne Drive will be developed, but the firm wants to maintain control of the land, MacLaren said previously.
Access to the retail center would be possible two ways off Matthews-Mint Hill Road and through one driveway off Lawyers Road, according to the proposal. Draft plans show the extension of the existing Brighton Park Drive with a concrete median installed in front of Evans Road, forcing a right-in/right-out only into the Mint Hill Library. The proposal also calls for the construction of a rear driveway to give library patrons and shoppers access to Lawyers Road.
The median, which will be landscaped and include a raised pedestrian crosswalk, is part of a state long-term plan for the road, MacLaren said.
This week, Stiles received the results of a traffic study being conducted for the project, which touches Farmwood East. The company is still reviewing the study, but MacLaren said if it calls for a traffic signal at Brighton Park Drive and N.C. 51 they would pay to have one installed when the retail portion is built in Phase I.
“It may, at full build-out, trigger the traffic signal (at Brighton Park Drive) and if that’s the case, we would go ahead and build (the traffic signal) up front,” he said. “We are on board to do that if warranted by the (NC)DOT.”
All road changes would have to be approved by the N.C. Department of Transportation and an easement agreement still needs to be approved to add an additional access point to the library.
Library staff supports the project, which will include directional signs alerting patrons to the road changes and new library access points.
“Our stance is as long as we can provide safe and easy access for our patrons we’re excited about any opportunity that is going to bring businesses to the community and boost the local economy,” said Mark Engelbrecht, Mint Hill Library manager.
Last month’s vote by the North Carolina Environment Management Committee to allow the transfer of CMUD water to the Goose Creek Basin, will allow Stiles to develop 35 additional acres as residential property, MacLaren said. The acreage was blocked by a moratorium on development in the Goose Creek watershed.
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