ALBEMARLE — In a unanimous decision, the Albemarle City Council recently approved the largest single-phased residential development in the city’s history.
The councilmembers voted at their Dec. 6 meeting to move forward with a 58-acre, 776-unit Avion subdivision connecting to both Henson Street and Leonard Avenue behind Walmart that will provide a 261-lot townhome cluster subdivision, a 360-unit multi-family complex and a 155-unit active adult living center.
“We had a little bit of discussion last meeting about the road design coming on to Henson Street,” Albemarle Mayor Ronnie Michael told the council. “It was designed differently but Mr. Harrell worked with us to make that work with the DOT [Department of Transportation] to where we can pursue this.”
Project manager Colton Harrell estimated that the final installments of the construction will take up to five years to fully complete but that the development will eventually connect to the future Albemarle Business Center.
Following the recommendations by the city’s Planning and Zoning Board on Nov. 30 — as well as approved annexation into an R-6 Urban Residential zoning district on Aug. 2 — the council individually voted in favor of townhome subdivision, family complex and senior living center plans that will each be developed by the Matthews-based R.D. Harrell Company.
The townhomes, averaging 2,312 square feet, will be built on a 35-acre portion of the property while the multi-family apartments are set to take up 16 acres and the senior facility is eight acres. The current amenities provided to future Avion residents include a community pool and garden, clubhouse, pickleball courts and multiple dog parks.
After the council’s recent signoff on the Avion plans, the City of Albemarle’s official Facebook account posted an announcement of the development that generated nearly 300 comments of discussions, with many questioning the impact it will have on Highway 24/27’s traffic congestion.
“Henson St. and the Walmart side of Leonard Ave. are already experiencing heavy traffic,” one user wrote. “The frequency of traffic crashes is on the rise. This development will definitely add to the problem.”
Others questioned whether the city would be able to support a large residential increase at this time: “Something tells me this may not be a great idea. Albemarle doesn’t have the infrastructure to support developments such as this. Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement will need to be increased as well as roads and public utilities.”
Kevin Robinson, Albemarle director of planning and development services, addressed the potential traffic concerns in the comment section by reaffirming that the city reviewed a detailed traffic impact analysis with the DOT. The director confirmed that alterations will be made to both roads and that while they are currently both dead-end routes, the development will bring a new road as a modified collector so that they will intersect together.
“This is a far more functional road network with multiple options for traffic and will work much better than the dead end streets all funneling traffic onto 24-27,” Robinson added.
The R.D. Harrell Company is currently estimating that the project will break ground in the building process within nine to 11 months.