March 16, 2008

Development to Reshape Cramerton: Work on Properties Along Wilkinson May Create a New Gateway

By Joe Depriest, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.

Mar. 16--The properties are on opposite sides of Wilkinson Boulevard in Cramerton: a former golf course and woods along the South Fork River.

Developments planned for both sites could double the town's population and become the new gateway to the town center.

Town Manager Michael Peoples said the new neighborhoods will connect with Cramerton's growing greenway system and eventually run all the way to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden on South New Hope Road.

"This is the last large amount of vacant land remaining in town," Peoples said. "It's the last frontier. And it all ties together."

Cramerton Town Commissioners recently approved conditional zoning for the 734-unit Village at South Fork on Wilkinson Boulevard at Peach Orchard Road. Hopper Communities of Charlotte plans apartments, condos, single-family homes and townhomes on 143 acres. There will also be 120,000 square feet of commercial space.

The South Fork project is across Wilkinson Boulevard from the 675 upscale housing units and 50,000 square feet of commercial space being planned by Firmitas Development of Charlotte. Peoples said this neotraditional neighborhood is in the construction planning phase.

Origins of the South Fork project go back at least three years, Peoples said. New South Properties of Charlotte had originally planned about 275 townhomes on property fronting Wilkinson Boulevard. As additional tracts were purchased, the project was reconfigured and became a mixed-use community.

Last year, New South co-founder Bart Hopper left to start his own land development company, Hopper Communities.

Hopper has been involved in developing such communities as StoneWater on Mountain Island Lake, Jetton Cove in Cornelius, Apple Creek Village near Gastonia, South Point Ridge in Belmont and Fairington Oaks in Mint Hill.

He said work on Village at South Fork should begin in early 2009 and build out over the next five to seven years. Single-family homes will be in the $190,000 to $260,000 range, with townhomes running from around $150,00 to $190,000.

"We'll be patient and do it right," Hopper said.

Land will be donated to the town for a public greenway along the South Fork River. The trail with canoe and kayak launches may run under the Wilkinson Boulevard bridge -- scheduled to be replaced in 2012 -- and hook up with the recently revitalized downtown.

In the next month or so, officials plan a grand opening for the downtown renovation project, which includes new sidewalks, a newly paved road, extra parking, decorative streetlights, banners, benches, trash receptacles and trees.

Two other new subdivisions have been approved in Cramerton -- River Bluff and Catawba's End.


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