CHARLOTTE – Dennis LaCaria remembers approaching the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte back in 2008 about a large tract of land in the Ballantyne area to build a future high school.
“We knew this was a great location for a high school,” the CMS official told the Charlotte City Council during the site’s Jan. 24 zoning hearing.
The 74-acre site at North Community House Road and Johnston Road will relieve overcrowding at Myers Park, South Mecklenburg and Ardrey Kell high schools, which are North Carolina’s three largest high schools by population.
Approved by voters in the 2017 bond referendum, CMS plans to open the high school in 2024.
“This is badly needed,” LaCaria said. “This may be the last sort of comprehensive high school that we ever build in Charlotte or Mecklenburg County because of the cost and availability of real estate. Even with this, we are building our first four-story classroom wing in a high school.”
LaCaria said the district has tried many ways to compress the site to be able to build on it, considering it comes with challenges in topography.
Rezoning attorney Collin Brown said obtaining the land required a partnership with Woodfield Development LLC, which will develop up to 420 multi-family residential units as part of the project.
“Woodfield was able to put this property under contract,” Brown said. “There are challenges with the diocese ownership that made that impossible for CMS, which is why this partnership was necessary.”
Despite the additional housing, no one spoke in opposition of the project.
Councilman Ed Driggs said he appreciates there will be a school at the site.
“This is something the district needs and looks forward to,” he said. “This location of that housing development with the benefit of two main thoroughfares and the separation of the nearby single-family works well.”
Brown gave credit to neighboring townhome and single-family neighborhood associations for their work on the project.
“Council Member Driggs helped us connect with the leadership of those organizations,” Brown said “ We had been out on site multiple times to walk the property line with them. From a conversation that started, ‘Oh my gosh, we don’t want this in our backyard’ to a conversation where folks said, ‘Hey, let’s see this as a positive. Let’s see this as an asset.’”
The city council is expected to vote on the project next month.