Some University City neighbours in Charlotte speak up against Top Golf proposal

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aria group architects
Rendering of the proposed TopGolf project (Aria Group Architects)

Charter Properties and Browder Real Estate Group plan to build a mixed-use project on a nearly 66-acre site at West Mallard Creek Church Rd. and Interstate 85 in Charlotte’s University City area, has drawn opposition from some neighbors, according to a Charlotte Business Journal report.

City staff support the project, indicating that while the site was originally pegged for research park development, commercial uses would also be appropriate for the site, as reflected in an updated Northeast Area Plan, and apartments would result in a mixed-use development instead of a solely commercial one.

The developers are planning site improvements, including construction of an additional road that would connect Mallard Creek Church and Galloway roads, which sit at the north and south ends of the mostly wooded land.

The project will come back before City Council for a vote, potentially as soon as next month.

“The growth in the research park was outpacing the infrastructure when the park was invested in about 40 years ago,” said Darlene Heater, executive director at University City Partners, indicating the planned road improvements would help make the area more connected, especially to offices in University Research Park. “(This) is an opportunity for us to raise the development bar. With every development, we’re looking how to enhance and increase the viability and sustainability of our development.”

“There’s a lot of concern for the character of the neighborhood that’s going to be affected,” said Linda Majchrzak, who lives nearby. She said she’s skeptical residents of the new apartments will actually walk to work or other destinations.

“Good luck to you,” she said. “Cross that road, walk that distance on a nice hot Charlotte day when it’s 98 degrees and 98 percent humidity.”

She’s also concerned about the impact of Top Golf on its neighbors.

“It is going to be open until midnight most nights and 2 a.m. on weekends,” she said. “We are going to see that Top Golf facility…lit up brighter than a Christmas tree at night.”

A Top Golf official said they can install lights that will cut down on glare and orient them toward the highway to minimize the impact on the neighborhood.

“It’s not going to be intrusive to the neighborhood,” said Tanner Micheli, Top Golf’s senior real estate development manager.

Other large mixed-use developments with more apartments, shops and restaurants are also planned nearby. Majchrak said the cumulative impact will be overwhelming.

“There doesn’t seem to be any coordination,” she said. “You’re allowing developers to decide what is best for us and our established neighborhoods.”

said the lights would be facing I-85 and added that in other cities where glare from Topgolf’s lights became an issue, tinted bulbs were installed.
“In the end, we’ve always come to a place that works for the community,” said Tanner Micheli, senior real estate development manager at Topgolf. “As far as lights and the impact on neighborhoods, we don’t think it will have any impact because it will be pointing away from the neighborhood.”

He added that the lights would be 55 feet tall, and the 80-foot building planned for the site could be reduced to 60 feet.

Council member Greg Phipps, who represents the University City area, said several rezoning petitions have come forward recently for the Mallard Creek Church Road corridor. The traffic impact of all projects has been considered as a whole rather than on a case-by-case basis.

“Each of those developers has a piece of the cost-sharing to try and implement a lot of these improvements along Mallard Creek Church Road,” Phipps said. “I would encourage us to do that on a more consistent basis.”

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