Apartments planned for the University City neighborhood in Charlotte

Cambridge Properties is seeking to rezone an approximately 15-acre site near Interstate 85 and University City Boulevard, which would bring 350 apartments near Charlotte's newest Topgolf location.

Cambridge Properties is seeking to rezone an approximately 15-acre site near Interstate 85 and University City Boulevard, which would bring 350 apartments near Charlotte’s newest Topgolf location.

A college town entertainment district anchored by Topgolf could be joined by hundreds of apartments as part of a rezoning petition before Charlotte City Council.

Cambridge Properties, a Charlotte-based development and brokerage firm, is proposing to build a four-story apartment building with 350 units near Ikea and MacFarlane Boulevards.

The hope is that the eventual 50-acre development with a proposed mix of office, residential and retail will not only attract people but keep them there, Cambridge Chairman Jay Priester told The Charlotte Observer.

“University City doesn’t have anything that allows people to stay there,” Priester said. “If you want entertainment, you have to leave.”

Charlotte City Council heard a brief presentation Monday night on the Cambridge rezoning petition. The petition also includes a step to separate a car dealership.

Council members did not express many concerns. Councilor Renee ‘Johnson asked Priester if there would be affordable or labor housing. Priester said that wasn’t in the plan.

The project is approximately a quarter mile walk from the University City Boulevard light rail station.

A vote on the petition could take place at next month’s zoning meeting.

Developer adjusts plans

Cambridge has focused on land development in the area for the past 10 years, Priester said. Initial talks were aimed at turning the area into a car mall with four car dealerships, he said. The land is located just off Interstate 85.

For now, there is only one dealership.

Construction of the city’s LYNX Blue Line extension to the University Quarter was beginning at this time, prompting Cambridge to rethink what should go there.

“We said we didn’t want to be myopic with this development,” Priester told the Observer.

Part of this readjustment is to free up space for future development by separating the car dealership from the entertainment district. The rezoning petition calls for cars to be moved from surface parking to an enclosed garage. This garage would be located further east along Ikea Boulevard, towards University City Boulevard, according to planning documents.

The proponent also proposes to construct a linear park which could include benches and other public uses, such as a dog park. It would be built near apartments along a neglected strip of land, which sits above a transmission line, Priester said.

Similar development nearby

Topgolf sits on about 14 acres, Priester told the Observer. The popular business opened the new location last June, he said, and spans three floors. This is Charlotte’s second Topgolf.

There is already a similar development nearby, according to city documents. A large apartment building sits on the property to the south along Ikea Boulevard.

Crescent Communities is building 311 apartments about three kilometers to the north. It is part of a larger project called Waters Edge which will include offices, retail, a lakeside park and a 1-mile pedestrian path. Waters Edge will be located near the intersection of JW Clay and WT Harris Boulevards.

Possible hotel

Cambridge’s website also shows the possibility of a 122-room hotel. Priester said it was still too early to say how big the hotel might be, but said there might be one in the future.

The firm is also planning an office component in the district. Businesses are making decisions to get employees back to work and might look for places with nearby amenities.

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Gordon Rago covers the growth and development of The Charlotte Observer. He was previously a reporter at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., and began his journalism career in 2013 at the Shoshone News-Press in Idaho.

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