Plans for huge development in downtown Huntersville moves forward despite opposition

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Home to Discovery Place Kids and a handful of small businesses, longtime sleepy downtown Huntersville will soon have new neighbors.

Huntersville commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday night to approve a massive development slated to bring in hundreds of new residents and potential for business. The plan includes up to 12,000 square feet of commercial space plus as many as 134 apartments, 41 townhomes and 11 single-family homes.

The development will be located on vacant land near Discovery Place.

The project’s approval disappointed the Save Downtown Huntersville group, which organized opposition to it over several months.

[READ MORE: Hundreds sign petition against development plan for downtown Huntersville]

“I am sad and frustrated that we can’t trust the people we elect into local offices to be our voices and listen to what we have to say,” Amber Kovacs said.

Kovacs, a leader of the Save Downtown Huntersville group, helped get thousands of people to sign a petition against the project. Ultimately, her concerns about traffic and the character of the neighborhood were not shared by most of the board.

“They just voted to open up a whole new can of worms for developers to come in here,” she said. “This just told them, ‘You can come in here and do whatever you want, even if people don’t want it.’”

Some town leaders said this is exactly the type of development they have been seeking for the area. Commissioner Nick Walsh hopes the development will be the start of a bright future for downtown Huntersville.

“I have talked to residents of Huntersville for a number of years, and there is one reoccurring question: What are you going to do to revitalize our downtown?” Walsh said. “There is nothing to do there. It is run down.”

Walsh refers to towns north of Huntersville as examples of places with thriving downtowns that they should follow.

“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel here,” he said. “We are simply looking around at what works in other communities, tweaking it for ours and making Huntersville a better place to live, work and play.”

That sentiment is not shared by everyone on the board.

“This is gentrification,” Commissioner Stacy Phillips said. “This is not revitalization.”

It is unclear when construction on the project will start. The apartments are estimated to be in the $1,100-$1,200 per month range for a one-bedroom unit. The townhomes are estimated to be in the low-to-mid-$300s.