The Long-Term Vision: From a New Hospital to a Super-Street Design for W. Catawba, Change is Coming

October 20. By Dave Yochum. If you think Cornelius has changed in the past 10 years, prepare for the next 10.


The Cornelius landscape is evolving with commercial trophy properties ready for both development and redevelopment.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of square feet of new construction, including more than 1,500 multi-family units approved by city council since June, redevelopment is coming.

The existing buildings, some old, others less old, will be demolished to make way for optimal and optimal use, a real estate maxim.

This is already happening on waterfront lands where aging homes are being pushed aside in favor of noteworthy multi-million dollar trophy homes, even nationally.

Mayor Woody Washam and Wayne Herron, the city’s director of planning, sat down for an interview with Cornelius Today on what Cornelius will look like in the future.

“Ultimately, we will embark on a redevelopment that includes the dismantling of commercial properties. What you see happening on the lake will evolve to other places in town, ”Washam said.

Buildings less than 20 years old could be expendable because property values ​​are so high, Herron said. For example, the 11,000 square foot RiteAid built in 2007 on the corner of Jetton and West Catawba was demolished and replaced by the Chase branch.

Wayne herron

Sefton Park Knot

More could happen, they said, including the redevelopment of the aging One Norman and Sefton Park mall, now anchored by Planet Fitness and Lost Worlds Brewing.

In fact, they said it was likely to happen in light of the large mixed-use project that will take place just east where Cornelius’ town planning council has unanimously recommended a hotel for approval. with five floors and a conference center on 10 acres.

Hinting at the future and the thinking of the developers, the project located in front of the CATS transit station includes 344 new apartment units. Think South End in Charlotte for this segment of Cornelius – now CATS station makes more sense.

Developer Shaw Resources is planning 7,800 square feet of retail space. It will be a new node of development, with more on the way, Herron and Washam said.

Shaw Resources submits the mixed-use project to city council on September 20. If commissioners approve the project, as planned, Shaw will begin construction in 2022.

Look for the intersection of One Norman and Sefton / Jetton to be an important location in the Cornelius of the future due to this project.

They call it a mixed-use knot. Another is on Nantz Road and further west along what will be a totally new and improved West Catawba. The mayor and chief planner said West Catawba, which now transports around 20,500 cars a day, will be built for 50,000.

West Catawba

West Catawba from Jetton to Sam Furr will be more of a “super street” than Jetton to Torrence Chapel. It will be wider, with more turning lane capacity, fewer and safer intersections, and 10-foot-wide elevated multi-use trails.

Construction is expected to start in 2025, but that could increase if infrastructure funding comes from Uncle Sam.

New developments will follow, not just at Alexander Farm, another major node with over $ 100 million in development, including homes, stores and offices, but up to Sam Furr.

Nantz will be a full motion intersection with left and right turns; there will be a wide median in the middle of West Catawba with a mix of retail, office and residential on either side.

Nantz, by the way, will cross West Catawba, pass 60 townhouses to be built, but already approved, and on to Magnolia Estates Drive. Construction of the road will start next year.

At the water’s edge

As for the waterfront businesses, there is a five acre parcel across from Kenton Place with direct lake access and frontage on West Catawba. It’s on the market right now.

“The waterfront will come to life at some point,” Washam said.

The mayor ruled out the demise of the brick-and-mortar retail business, suggesting that after COVID, people will continue to opt for the suburbs.

“People are not going back to the city center,” he said, but they will go to smaller bricks and mortar, which in Cornelius will take the form of businesses like financial advisers and insurance companies. , especially for high-end specialty items like works of art, expensive airplanes and boats.

Large distribution?

“Big box retail has no place in our city,” Washam said.

Other nodes include Chartown, where Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep is building a state-of-the-art dealership and additional retail businesses, which will eventually connect to Westmoreland. Speaking of connections, Northcross Drive, where Whole Foods is at Exit 25, will connect to Westmoreland in a few years. Construction takes place between 2022 and 2024.

Augustalee Hospital Complex / Atrium

Look for not just a hospital, but a luxury hotel and more commercial use on the old Augustalee site on the highway. 21 across from Bailey Road. It will be a large mixed-use project with 40 acres exempt from property taxes and 60 acres non-exempt, good news for local taxpayers. The hotel’s developer, Aston Properties, is known for its first-rate developments.

Also look for the large curve on Bailey Road to straighten out, sending traffic straight to the freeway. 21, Herron and Washam said.

Speaking of roads, the treacherous junction of Mayes Road in Hwy. 115 will be moved south to Huntersville, with quality upgrades, starting next year.


Think in terms of top quality development. Realize that the Cain Center for the Arts is the Mac Daddy of economic development for all of Cornelius. The $ 25 million capital investment is attracting regional, if not national, attention from developers, Washam and Herron said.

Indeed, over the next 10 years, downtown will become an “extremely dynamic mix of restaurants, brasseries, small retail businesses, some offices; in addition to entertainment venues, art galleries and the like, ”Washam said.

Talks are already underway for a 40- to 60-room boutique hotel, with apartments and retail surrounding existing historic structures just west of Cain Center. The doors of the CCA open in just 15 months.

Washam expects world-class made-to-order dining from Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Planners won’t be surprised if a resort proposal is submitted to the Planning Council later this year or early next year.

There have even been proposals to rearrange the live work units across from the Cain Center, which is not an easy task considering they are privately owned.

Across Main Street there are the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Caroline projects with a total of 720 residences, and of course a brewery.

In most cases, vacant properties will be developed in one way or another.

Land is just too precious, Washam and Herron said.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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