By David Rogers. June 7, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — For now at least, renderings will remain just that, renderings.
Blowing Rock News has confirmed with Town Manager Ed Evans and developer Rob Pressley of Coldwell Banker Commercial MECA that the latter’s conditional zoning application for the Morningside Condominium project has been withdrawn.
COVER IMAGE: For the Blowing Rock Planning Board, the conditional zoning request for a variance on density was a problem. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
In the April meeting of the Blowing Rock Planning Board, most of the members of the planning board applauded the general concept of the planned development, but balked at the requested variance for a much higher density than what is currently permitted under the Land Use Code. Other concerns included the development’s plans for Rainey Street and its incursion into the street right-of-way.
Asked to go back and study their project for potential revision, the Coldwell Banker group was apparently unable to make the numbers work.
We weren’t doing this to make a lot of money, but the numbers still have to work for it to be feasible.
Reached by telephone on Wednesday, Pressley explained to Blowing Rock News, Pressley recalled, “The Planning Board gave us an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and address their concerns with an aim toward re-presenting to them at a later date. We left the meeting, spent a lot of time with our engineer, and moved things around in addressing those issues. We came up with a plan that actually turned out really nice by taking one unit out of each of the three buildings. That scooted the (back) building off of Rainey St. and further into the property. By doing so we were also able to add a couple of parking spaces and get out of all the setback (issues).
“Everything was great about it,” Pressley added, “except that by removing three units it put pressure on our financial model. We tweaked it and made all of the changes we could make, but the end result was that we needed relief from the seller (of the parcel). The price we had agreed to was predicated on development of 16 units. So in losing those three, we really needed some help on that end. We went back to the seller and made our pitch to amend the contract, and he came back and said he was not willing to do that. He indicated that if we were not moving forward, that he would just develop it himself.
“You know,” Pressley continued, “obviously if I had known this is where we would end up, we would never have embarked on this…We have left the door open for the seller to change his mind, but at this point it does not appear that he is inclined to do so.”
The owner of the parcel and seller is listed on the Watauga County GIS site as Grand Dakota Development, LLC. The firm’s agent, according to www.nccompanies.com, is Stephen D. Barker, who is also a principal of the Catellus Group, which led the proposed development of the Mountainleaf mixed used (lodging/retail/residential) project first brought before the Board of Commissioners in the summer of 2014. Mountainleaf was eventually abandoned and the 7.35 acres on which it was to be developed later sold to a third party. Grand Dakota and Catellus currently share the same address at 217 E. Tremont Ave., Charlotte, NC.
Blowing Rock News had not reached Mr. Barker to ascertain his ongoing plans by the time this story was published. We will update the story as more details become available.