Design is Hot Button for Glenwood Pedestrian Bridge

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The question isn’t whether to build a pedestrian bridge over Glenwood Avenue near Crabtree Valley Mall. It’s how to build it.

At least, that seemed to be the idea during Wednesday’s Comprehensive Planning Committee meeting, where Councilors spent most of the time discussing the potential bridge’s design.

Councilor and Committee Chair Russ Stephenson wanted more specifics from developers, who have offered to fund, construct and maintain a pedestrian bridge over Glenwood Avenue as part of a proposed mixed-use development on Charles Drive.

The committee ultimately approved the project in a 2-to-1 vote with Councilor Randy Stagner voting against.

The project plan includes 175 residential units and 125,000 square feet of retail space for small boutiques and restaurants. The retail portion of the project would not be completed until the bridge is constructed.

Rezoning is required in order to redevelop the area, which now contains a 112-unit apartment community.

Attorney Robin Curin, who was representing the developers and property owners, said design specifications were not included in the rezoning because they are still in talks with mall executives as to where and how the the bridge will land on the property. The bridge would also have to be approved by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the city.

Design specifications are usually not included within the conditions of a zoning case because those conditions are legally binding. Curin said that they would have more design information at the site plan stage.

“I can tell you that the developer certainly wants a nice-looking, high-quality amenity to go with his development,” Curin said. “There’s no plan to put a rope and wood bridge.”

Without specifics, Stephenson said that there’s no way of knowing what the city and neighbors, will get. Stephenson referenced conceptual designs being held by supporters in the audience and asked if the developers would be willing to commit to that design.

Curin said that they are willing to commit to their design, but there are other agencies that will also have a say and those decisions might be out of their control.

“I can’t imagine what it would be that it would be so bad,” said Councilor Bonner Gaylord.

Speaking on behalf of many of the supporters at the meeting, Jim Scofield said that residents trust the city’s design process and that adding specific design conditions is unnecessary because the city has final approval.

“To cross Glenwood … is a death wish for pedestrians and cyclists right now,” said Scofield, an avid cyclist.

The committee’s approval came with the stipulation that developers use a bow truss bridge or an alternate if the truss bridge is not approved by NCDOT.

The City Council will have the final say at its next meeting May 7.

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