Park-Woodlawn development plan nearly done

After a year of working with a panel of concerned citizens and area leaders, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department will present its draft for the Park-Woodlawn area plan on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m.

The public meeting, being held at Park Road Baptist Church at 3900 Park Road, will cover all of the plans made by the planning department concerning recommendations for transportation, infrastructure and the natural environment at the Park Road Shopping Center and in surrounding offices and neighborhoods.  The plan will be used as a guideline for Charlotte City Council when future development decisions are made for the area. This will be the first time since the 1990s there has been an area plan focused on the Park-Woodlawn area – roughly between Tyvola Road and the Dilworth area – and anyone living or who owning property in the area is welcome to attend the meeting.

“We have heard from them in all the steps we have gone through, but this is a way to put it all together and put it out to a larger group,” Alberto Gonzalez, the senior principle planner, said about the upcoming meeting.

When discussing plans with the citizen’s advisory group, which was made up of about 30 property owners from the area, the main concern brought up was keeping all future development at the same scale as the surrounding neighborhoods.

“What we have control over is the land-use recommendation and the design so that when new development comes in you create this attractive multi-use area designed at a neighborhood scale,” Gonzalez said.

The planning department plans to focus on making the Park Road Shopping Center and the surrounding area a neighborhood-focused area for those living nearby.  With a focus on local business and easy pedestrian and bike access, Gonzalez said all development will continue to cater to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Currently there are improvement plans in the works for the Park Road Shopping Center, which is under new ownership, but the draft plans presented by the planning department are separate from the renovations and work being done in the shopping center – though representatives from the center did have a voice on the citizen’s advisory group.

Another concern for those living in the area was an increase in traffic if more development is made.  Gonzalez said focusing more on pedestrian and bike transportation will help lower the impact on increasing traffic.

“There is always traffic there to begin with, so any new development… you are trying to minimize that as much as possible,” he said. “If we can find a way that people can drive to the activity center, park once and walk everywhere else we can reduce traffic.”

The Park-Woodlawn area already experiences high cut-through traffic with people using it as a route downtown, and Gonzalez said planners can’t do much about getting drivers to go another way. Widening Park Road isn’t an option, so making the Park-Woodlawn area more pedestrian-focused will decrease local traffic, Gonzalez said, and hopefully take some cars off the road.

According to Gonzalez, because the area has already been developed, all plans presented at Tuesday’s meeting will focus on redevelopment.  Also, the new area plan calls for no new roads being built or the expansion of any existing roads.  The main transportation focus will be on pedestrian and bike traffic.

“Another alternative is, as the area intensifies, it becomes less attractive to use a cut-through street.  If you make the center of it more pedestrian friendly it becomes less attractive as a cut through,” he said.

Connecting the Park Road Shopping Center to surrounding areas like the Park Towne Village Shopping Center and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway also is a main focus of the draft area plan.

After discussions this coming week, the planning board will take the public’s thoughts and form their final plans that will be presented at a meeting in January.

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