MATTHEWS – Town commissioners got a preview of what potential development could look like in the area around the Sportsplex at Matthews on Feb. 23 at their annual planning conference.
The planned area around the sportsplex is called the Entertainment District, and the mixed-use district has been on the drawing board for almost 20 years.
The sportsplex was completed in 2017 on 180 acres and consists of nine synthetic turf fields, two grass fields and a 4,100-seat stadium capable of hosting a variety of events.
Interim Matthews Planning Director Jay Camp said the “meat” of the proposed area of development is about 50 acres. Proffitt Dixon Partners is developing another 36-acre site at 1100 Matthews-Mint Hill Road that will include multi-family housing units and some non-residential space that it markets as the front door to the Entertainment District.
“This is one of several areas where we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create projects that will have a lasting impact on the town,” Camp told the board.
Development on the 50-acre site isn’t expected to start in earnest until the extension of Independence Pointe Parkway is completed. Camp said the N.C. Department of Transportation expects construction of the extension that will run toward I-485 is set to begin around 2023.
“I think that will have an impact on when you actually see development,” he said.
Camp showed the commissioners four profiles of existing developments from different parts of the country as possible blueprints for what the mixed-use district could look like. Camp also said he could envision developers constructing a building large enough to house a corporate office.
“This isn’t just a place where people live but this is a place where jobs are created,” Camp said. “We want this to be a neighborhood. We want there to be amenities, shops, restaurants. We would love to have a developer have a merry-go-round, a climbing wall, a movie theater, a Dave and Busters. We want this to be a place where people want to come and visit.”
There will be a 70,000-square foot maximum for “big box” retail locations in the proposed Entertainment District.
“We don’t want it to be the next location for a Target in town,” Camp said. “We want it to be smaller-scale retail. Other than hotels and movie theaters, there isn’t going to be a push for retailers over 70,000 feet.”
Commissioner Chris Melton wants to make sure the Entertainment District has the same feel as downtown Matthews.
“I don’t want Waverly in Matthews,” Melton said.
Commissioner Barbara Dement said the town needs to be proactive as the Entertainment District begins to take shape.
“We have to make sure that we get what we want, what we envision, instead of just sitting back to see what developers bring to us and see what their plan may be,” she said.