Fort Mill Times

Steele Creek improvement plan taking shape

Ayrsley is part of an area slated for $30 million in improvements as part of a neighborhood investment initiative in Steele Creek, off South Tryon Street near I-485.
Ayrsley is part of an area slated for $30 million in improvements as part of a neighborhood investment initiative in Steele Creek, off South Tryon Street near I-485. jmarks@lakewyliepilot.com

Input in hand, it’s time for Charlotte planners to come up with a list of projects that could reshape the Steele Creek area.

City planners met with residents April 23 for a second time as part of the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Project. Whitehall/Ayrsley is one of five areas targeted for investment including intersection or sidewalk improvements, public art and road construction.

Whitehall/Ayrsley is slated for $30 million in eight years.

“We’ve been talking to businesses in the area, focus groups,” said Keith Carpenter, city planner. “We’re looking at coming up with a list of what we consider transformational projects.”

The Whitehall/Ayrsley area is different from Lake Wylie, where residential construction is common.

“What we’re trying to do is make that area more attractive (to residents),” Carpenter said. “There are twice as many people working in that area as there are living in that area.”

Significant industrial and commercial bases sit in the study area, which includes Ayrsley and Charlotte Premium Outlets. About 90 percent of the people who work in the area don’t live there, leading to the top concern expressed by residents.

“Most of the comments have been about the congestion on the roads,” Carpenter said. “and then a lack of public amenities – parks, basketball courts, greenways, that type of thing.”

Residents and workers in the Ayrsley area say they like the way the area is growing, with only minor suggestions for improvement.

“The roads are fine for now,” said Val Dorton, who drives in from Lincolnton, N.C., for work. “If the area keeps growing, they might not be.”

More of the stores that come with residential development, particularly more drug stores, would be nice, she said. More left turn signals would be a welcomed addition, too.

“Just getting out some of these places and trying to turn left, I try to avoid that at all costs,” Dorton said.

There are challenges to community planning. The main concern with roads is due in part to an area where business grew rapidly around roads built largely through farm land.

“It was pretty rural, and most of the roads out here were built back then,” Carpenter said.

A call for parks is tricky because the county heads park and recreation facilities. Then there are residents living in more remote areas wanting restaurants, grocery stores and similar features typically built among more homes.

Yet by taking and applying public input with good planning, Carpenter said, small changes may lead to the type of community growth that brings what residents say they most want.

“All that is coming,” he said.

Planners will gather data and come back with recommendations at another public meeting.

“We don’t have a hard and fast end date,” Carpenter said. However, he said it’s likely a final report will be finished in July or August.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

Learn more:

For information on the process, visit charmeck.org and search CNIP.

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