Officials with Ballantyne’s Bissell Companies are preparing to start work on the next group of road projects aimed at improving congestion and adding pedestrian and bicyclist safety enhancements around the busy south Charlotte community.
The company will soon start work or pay for work, in accordance with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Charlotte Department of Transportation and Charlotte and Mecklenburg County leaders, on a bridge to extend North Community House Road across Interstate 485, and intersection improvements at both John J. Delaney Drive and Brixham Avenue, and Johnston Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway.
The company already led the charge on improvement projects that saw dual left turn lanes added to three corners of the intersection of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and North Community House Road, as well as safety and other improvements to North Community House Road up to where the bridge will be built – part of an agreement between Bissell Companies and Charlotte and Mecklenburg County leaders for the company to pay around $11 million for the work over the span of more than three years in exchange for a rezoning that will allow the company to add another 1 million square feet of usage to the park.
“We are happy with the road improvements at North Community House Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway,” Clifton Coble, president of Bissell Development, said in an email to South Charlotte Weekly. “The feedback about traffic flow has been very positive from tenants and residents, as well as from city and state representatives.”
Of the $11 million in road projects, $8.5 million will go toward the North Community House Road bridge, which should start later this month. The project will unite the two ends of North Community House Road so drivers will have another option to access the park and other parts of Ballantyne while bypassing congestion on Johnston Road. The bridge will include bicycle lanes and sidewalks, and will slightly alter the intersection of North Community House Road and Endhaven Lane, including the addition of a traffic signal, near where developers have proposed constructing an apartment complex across the street from Endhaven Lane Elementary School.
The bridge project is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, around the same time as the Johnston Road flyover and I-485 widening is expected to finish.
The section of John J. Delaney Drive from Johnston Road to Ballantyne Corporate Place will be renamed Brixham Hil Avenue, while the southern portion of John J. Delaney Drive will be renamed Ballantyne Medical Place. The southeast portion behind Ballantyne Commons East will remain John J. Delaney Drive.
Drivers will no longer be able to make a left onto Conlan Circle when coming from Johnston Road – long ranked as one of the most dangerous intersections in the city by CDOT – but will have other options to reach businesses on Conlan Circle.
Drivers wanting to make a left going toward Johnston Road from Brixham Hill Avenue will be able to drive through the intersection without having to stop, while those wanting to turn right or left onto Brixham Hill Avenue from Ballantyne Medical Place will have to stop.
The John J. Delaney Drive project should be complete this summer.
Crews also will construct two sets of dual turn lanes onto Johnston Road from Ballantyne Commons Parkway, one going north and the other south. The project will start in March and should be finished sometime during the summer.
Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners approved the road construction funding agreement in 2011, which will allow Bissell Companies a chance to get its $11 million back starting in 2015. Bissell Companies will receive 45 percent of the tax revenues associated with the expansion of the park for 15 years or until the $11 million is paid back.
Bissell Companies pledged to wait to expand the additional 1 million square feet of space until road work was complete, though the park already had space to expand even before the 2011 rezoning. With both its own projects and the widening of I-485 wrapping up by the end of 2014, the company will soon be set to take advantage of the new room to grow.
“Our growth will be in response to where market demand takes us,” Ned Curran, president and CEO of Bissell Companies, said in an email. “We have entitlements to build residential units, as well as additional hotel rooms and office space. We will tailor delivery of our product based on the customer’s needs.”
Ballantyne Corporate Park is one of the country’s leaders in building speculative office space – or constructing buildings before a tenant has signed on to move there. That gives the area an advantage to bring in businesses looking for an already-built home over having to construct their own new building.
“Mr. (Smoky) Bissell always wants to have office product available for our own portfolio needs, as well as a tool for city and state economic development resources to use in promoting Charlotte as a wonderful place to work,” Curran said, referring to the park’s founder. “We are comfortable with our current vacancy, and are again coming off one of our best years in terms of absorption. We are optimistic about leasing activity in 2014.”
An official with Bissell Companies is scheduled to discuss updates in the park at the next Ballantyne Breakfast Club meeting on Jan. 11, a Saturday, at the Ballantyne Hotel, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.