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Rezoning plan detailed for foundry land near stadium, but some on council remain wary

·3 min read

One of the largest pieces of land available for development around uptown Charlotte took a step closer Monday night to becoming the home of retail, hotels, restaurants — or maybe even a new stadium.

But some City Council members voiced concerns over a rezoning petition for Charlotte Pipe and Foundry’s 55-acre uptown site near Bank of America Stadium, and what sort of say the city would have with any future development that might go there.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has previously cited the foundry land as a possible home for a new stadium one day.

Council members did not vote after Monday night’s public hearing on the petition, which calls for rezoning the land to “uptown mixed-use district.” The rezoning would allow for a range of uses, including retail, hotels, restaurants and stadiums.

The petition will now go to a zoning committee for additional recommendation. The earliest council could vote on it would be Nov. 15, a city spokesman told the Observer in an email.

The city’s planning staff recommended approval of the rezoning in part because it was close to a proposed LYNX Silver Line station and contributes to future growth around uptown.

Council’s concerns

Charlotte Pipe and Foundry attributed its move to the growth happening in uptown and South End, writing in a statement this year that “we believe a vibrant, urban center with a mixture of uses may be a more appropriate future for our property.”

Collin Brown, an attorney who has spoken on behalf of Pipe and Foundry at prior meetings, told council members Monday that the company believes the rezoning is a “nice evolution” of the site, is in line with future growth plans and is centrally located.

“It does not make sense for heavy industrial uses,” Brown said.

But Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt asked about whether the site would have any open space. She said she worried that if they rezone the land, the city could give away its bargaining chips on negotiating for a small park or other component in a future development.

Councilman Ed Driggs echoed Eiselt’s concerns about the “blank check” nature of this type of rezoning.

Looking for partners

In June, Tepper told reporters that he doesn’t anticipate embarking on a new stadium project by himself.

“At some point, that building will fall down. Like I said before and I’ll say it again, I’m not building a stadium alone,” Tepper said at the time. “The community is going to have to want it. If I’m a third, and the community’s a third, and eventually in the future, personal seat license (owners) are a third, or whatever we do, it’s a partnership.”

The Panthers play in one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL. Tepper also owns Charlotte FC, a Major League Soccer expansion that is set to start play in 2022 in Bank of America Stadium, which is undergoing renovations.

Tepper has also previously discussed a vision for a stadium with a retractable roof that would have the potential to host an NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. Charlotte last hosted the tournament in 1994.

New foundry construction underway

Charlotte Pipe and Foundry has operated a plant at South Clarkson Street and West Summit Avenue for more than 100 years.

Last May, the company announced that it was moving its operations to Oakboro in Stanly County.

The company, which melts scrap metal into pipe, plans to build a new foundry on a 428-acre site. Images shared on Facebook last week show construction is underway. Charlotte Pipe and Foundry said it expects production to start as early as the third quarter of 2023.

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