Ballantyne learns about village, park developments

Ballantyne residents received a bevy of good economic news at last weekend’s Ballantyne Breakfast Club meeting, as they learned about projects planned across south Charlotte that should be coming to fruition in 2014.

Developers broke down some of the biggest upcoming ventures in the area, including another planned office building in the Ballantyne Corporate Park, the revitalization of the Ballantyne Village shopping center and the soon-to-open Publix on Johnston Road. Residents also viewed presentations on the Providence Road mixed-use community proposal called Waverly, which will be discussed by Charlotte City Council in February, and the Charlotte Premium Outlets that should open with more than 90 stores later this year in Steele Creek.

Barry Fabyan, senior vice president and manager of office leasing services for Bissell Companies, which manages the corporate park, spoke briefly about the upcoming North Community House Bridge project and other traffic improvements near the park. The first round of road work is complete, though the biggest project – the bridge – must wait on construction by the North Carolina Department of Transportation  to widen Interstate 485. The projects should be finished later this year.

Fabyan also addressed some recent speculation about the next office building to be constructed in the park, which is likely to be 11-stories tall, but will be built a little differently than other office buildings in Ballantyne. The Bissell Companies has made a habit of building towers before they are leased, which helped them lure in MetLife last year but also resulted in the company having to spend “a lot of money” fitting the building to MetLife’s needs, including “ripping out lobbies,” Fabyan said, adding the company will keep that in mind when finishing the next speculative project.

At Ballantyne Village, new owner Vision Ventures is working with existing business owners in the center to see what needs to change – including what new businesses are needed at Ballantyne Village to improve cross-marketing between tenants so they can “feed off each other,” said Ted Hill, vice president of Vision Ventures.

“(Vision Ventures will) do more listening than talking,” Hill said about gathering input on improvements. “We’re setting our egos aside, forgetting about any vision … we had and listening to (businesses and the community) first.”

The first goal for Vision Ventures is to identify improvements and work on a better mix of tenants, Hill said, as well as addressing customers’ concerns of “where the heck am I going to
park?”

The company, which also owns the EpiCentre in uptown Charlotte, will install wayfinding signs to direct visitors toward the closest parking spots and to businesses that may be more hidden in the center. Vision Ventures also will evaluate lighting in the center and start getting current tenants the backing and public relations support they haven’t had while the center dealt with bankruptcy over the last year.

Ballantyne Village is a “great fit for our group,” said Hill, as Vision Ventures has worked with a number of bankrupt centers in the past. “We are used to taking these tenants that need attention … and get them to an A-plus level.”

Publix will open its first store in North Carolina on Johnston Road by the end of February, said Chuck Roskovich, the vice president of Publix’s Charlotte division and a Ballantyne resident. Roskovich started his career with Publix as a 14-year-old bagger, so he said he can attest to the important role the company plays in a community.

“We’re going to rejuvenate some real estate in this market,” Roskovich said, adding that hiring has already begun for the store. “We’re going to make the neighborhood just a little bit better.”

Developers of the planned Waverly project highlighted parts of their mixed-use center, which would include two office buildings at five to six stories each, some 225,000 to 250,000 square feet of retail, an “upscale grocery store,” 90,000 square feet of space for restaurants and outdoor dining, two medical buildings totaling 60,000 square feet, two one-story parking decks and 180 single-family and town homes and 375 apartments.  The project also would include the continuation of Ardrey Kell Road and the addition of a traffic signal at Golf Links Drive and Providence Road.

Charlotte City Council is scheduled to hear a discussion on the project at the Feb. 17 rezoning meeting, where the community is invited to give feedback about plans prior to council voting on the project, likely in March.

Charlotte Premium Outlets is underway off I-485 and Steele Creek Road. The center will include more than 90 businesses, much like the outlet malls in Gaffney and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and should be open this summer, in time for back-to-school
shopping.

The club’s next meeting will be the annual priorities meeting, which brings local city department heads to Ballantyne so residents can learn about upcoming initiatives and ask any questions they want to elected officials and representatives from Charlotte planning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and numerous other groups. That will be beneficial for the multiple residents who asked for more information on local road projects and traffic congestion at last weekend’s meeting, since Charlotte Department of Transportation officials also will be on hand.

Find more information on the meeting at the club’s website, www.
ballantynebreakfastclub.com.

 

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