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Council backs plans to revamp downtown by infilling property

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

A preliminary glimpse at what could potentially be in store for the future of downtown Lincolnton received unanimous support to move forward from City Council members Thursday night.

As the Times-News previously reported, the council has been looking into a proposed infill development site on Court Square in downtown.

Council members previously gave the go-ahead to Business and Community Development Director Brad Guth to proceed with a Request for Proposals (RFP) for interested developers to transform the city-owned property, located at 103 E. Sycamore Street, into office, retail or residential space.

The deadline for proposals to be submitted was Monday, with Guth noting that the RFP was advertised via social media, online and through direct mailings to all contractors in Lincoln County.

Lincolnton-based Piedmont Companies was the lone respondent, with Craig Upshaw, commercial developer for the company, on hand to present the proposal.

Upshaw described the company’s vision for Court Square as similar to a small, European city that would provide a model and catalyst for future growth downtown.

Piedmont Companies’ proposal calls for a four-story multipurpose building, with the top-two floors each containing six residential units in the style of a loft environment and the first floor a mixture of shop, restaurant and residential space.

The residential units would be designed so as to have the potential to become office units in the future.

Additionally, the basement would be a small parking garage, and the roof would allow for a terrace.

Upshaw also detailed some of the expected challenges to developing the site, including the required installation of cable and phone lines, utilities, street lighting, additional parking and determining what is under the existing lot.

He stressed the importance of a public-private partnership in developing the project, with Piedmont Companies requesting several infrastructure improvements by the city, as well as some grant participation.

The company, he added, will need to be given the land in order to make the project financially viable.

Nonetheless, Upshaw is optimistic that the development wouldn’t come with a heavy price tag for the city.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a terrible expense to the city,” he said.

With the council voting unanimously to move forward exclusively with the company, detailed floor plans and a projected budget will now be developed, to be brought back in early May.

Some of Piedmont Companies other local projects include the Walgreens on East Main Street and Goodwill.

The initiative to bring in the mixed-use project is in collaboration with the Downtown Development Association, with the intended goal of creating jobs, increasing tax revenues and enhancing downtown.

In other City Council action:

Council members unanimously approved a conditional-use permit request from Serenity Adult Day Facility, LLC, to operate an adult day care facility out of Hesed House of Hope, located at 100 Ann Gaither Court off of East Lincoln Street, during the morning and afternoon hours. The property will continue to operate as a homeless shelter at night.

Council members recognized the 2012-2013 Lincolnton Student Advisory Council members, who presented committee reports.

Council members unanimously agreed to proceed with an upset bid process, as required by state law, following an offer from Tabernacle of Blessings to purchase city-owned property, located at 1201 E. Catawba St.

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