The 54-acre Alexander Farm in the town of Cornelius has been up for sale since 2015. Recently, a proposal has been presented to turn the property into a mixed-use complex of residential and commercial spaces.
Located at the corner of West Catawba and Westmoreland, the farm is one of the last large land parcels in Cornelius and was actively working until the death of its owner, Eugene Alexander, in 2014. Eugene’s family lost interest in keeping the farm and decided to put the property up for sale more than a year later.
In October 2017, the Charlotte-based Leon Capital Group, through their lawyer, Susan Irvin, filed an application with the Cornelius Board of Commissioners to allow the development of the mixed-use complex. Currently, the farm is zoned Neighborhood Mixed Use and Neighborhood Residential. Leon Capital Group, however, has yet to present its transportation impact analysis (TIA) and schedule a staff review, citing potential changes to the plan.
Preliminary development plan
The preliminary proposal submitted by Leon Capital Group involves the following:
- 3 retail outparcels with an area of 16,000 square feet along a 700-foot stretch on Catawba Avenue
- A neighborhood retail center with a total area of 56,000 square feet
- Office spaces totaling 50,000 square feet
- A maximum of 170 townhome units
- Multifamily complex with a maximum of 150 independent living units
The community’s reaction
While some town officials and the Alexander family are optimistic about the commercial prospects of the property, others in the community are apprehensive about the impacts of the proposed development.
Long-time town commissioner Dave Gilroy wants to do a thorough review on the proposal. “To develop high-density residential on this land would be a tragic mistake for our community,” he told Cornelius Today. “We need to pull together an effective working group including Cornelius planning staff, nearby neighborhood HOAs, county planning and parks staff, our Historical Preservation Committee, and perhaps land conservancy resources to address this major issue.”
Other citizens are concerned about losing valuable open space in the community, and with it, Cornelius’s bucolic vibe. Additional traffic build-up in the area due to the development is also an issue. West Catawba, in particular, is an area of concern given the huge amount of traffic it currently sees during rush hour and whenever the I-77 is congested.
Cornelius in transition
The different opinions on the future of the Alexander Farm mirror the changing facets of Cornelius. This charming lakeside town has seen tremendous growth since the construction of Lake Norman in the 1960s, with the population growing from around 1,800 in the 1990s to more than 29,000 today. With over 54 miles of the Lake Norman shoreline, and a great location that puts it just minutes away from Charlotte, Cornelius has become a prime destination for those looking for a laidback lakefront lifestyle with easy access to urban amenities.
Commercial properties and large-scale developments are rising to accommodate the influx of new residents and take advantage of the town’s growing economy. The future face of Cornelius will depend to a large degree on what town officials and residents decide on.